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Revivalism and social reform 



American Protestantism on the 
Eve of the Civil War 

baRpenf coRcbuooks 

A reference-list of Harper Torchbooks, classified 
by subjects, is printed at the end of this volume. 


American Protestantism on the 
Em of the Civil War 


HARPER TORCHBOOKS f The Academy Library 
Harper & Row, Publishers, New York 


Copyright 1957 by Abingdon Press 
Printed in the United States of America. 

This book was originally published in 1957 by Abingdon Press, and 
is here reprinted by arrangement. 

First HARPER TORCHBOOK edition published 1965 by 
Harper & Row, Publishers, Incorporated 
49 East 33rd Street 
New York, N.Y. 10016. 

Library of Congress catalog card number: 57-6757 


Could Thomas Paine, tlie free-thinking pamphleteer of the 
American and French revolutions, have visited Broadway in 1865, he would 
have been amazed to find that the nation conceived in rational liberty was at 
last fulfilling its democratic promise in the power of evangelical faith. The 
emancipating glory of the great awakenings had made Christian liberty, 
Christian equality and Christian fraternity the passion of the land. The 
treasured gospel of the elect few passed into the hands of the baptized 
many. Common grace, not common sense, was the keynote of the age. 

The Calvinist idea of foreordination, rejected as far as it concerned 
individuals, was now transferred to a grander object the manifest destiny 
of a Christianized America. Men in all walks of life believed that the 
sovereign Holy Spirit was endowing the nation with resources sufficient 
to convert and civilize the globe, to purge human society of all its evils, 
and to usher in Christ's reign on earth. Religious doctrines which Paine, 
in his book The Age of Reason, had discarded as the tattered vestment of 
an outworn aristocracy, became the wedding garb of a democratized church, 
bent on preparing men and institutions for a kind of proletarian marriage 
supper of the Lamb. 

This is not the place, of course, to measure the vast gap between these 
hopes and their fulfillment. Historians acquainted with the scandalous 
conduct of good churchmen like Jay Gould and Daniel Drew will be 
understandably skeptical. Instead of a marriage supper after the Civil 
War we had what Vernon Louis Parrington called the Great Barbecue. 
And only men of privilege were invited. Those who lived through the 
twenty-five years before 1865, however, thought the hopes were grounded 
in reality. 

What has made the preparation of this book exciting has been the dawn- 
ing discovery that revivalistic religion and the quest of Christian perfection 
lay at the fountainhead of our nation's heritage of hope. My original purpose 
was simply to trace the extent and significance after 1850 of what I thought 


was by then the declining influence of these two spiritual traditions in 
America. The simplest justification for such a study was that ignorance of 
these matters hindered understanding of the exact way in which other- 
worldly faith had nurtured the impulse to social reform. Another was the 
guess that the persistence of popular religious ideas had been too much 
overlooked, leaving even theologians no alternative but to attribute the rise 
of small sects and the recurrent sweep of revivals in the twentieth century 
to economic and social tensions. The stanchest adherents of modern 
holiness and evangelistic movements, I knew, were the children and grand- 
children of shouting Methodists and praying Presbyterians. And most of 
them took literally the Biblical injunction to be fruitful and multiply and 
replenish the earth. 

As the work progressed, so many unsuspected but obviously interrelated 
facts came to light that a general revaluation of mid-nineteenth-century 
Protestantism seemed necessary. The manuscript which was finally pre- 
sented for a graduate degree set forth a new interpretation of that era. 
It seems advisable, therefore, to state the major thesis clearly at the begin- 
ning of this published version, so as to let the reader know where he is 
going. Relevant facets are repeated at the beginning or toward the close 
of each chapter. 

The gist of it is simply that revival measures and perfectionist aspiration 
flourished increasingly between 1840 and 1865 in all the major denomina- 
tions particularly in the cities. And they drew together a constellation of 
ideas and customs which ever since have lighted the diverging paths of 
American Protestantism. Lay leadership, the drive toward interdenomina- 
tional fellowship, the primacy of ethics over dogma, and the democratiza- 
tion of Calvinism were more nearly fruits of fervor than of reflection. The 
quest of personal holiness became in some ways a kind of plain man's 
transcendentalism, which geared ancient creeds to the drive shaft of social 
reform. Far from disdaining earthly affairs, the evangelists played a key 
role in the widespread attack upon slavery, poverty, and greed. They thus 
helped prepare the way both in theory and in practice for what later 
became known as the social gospel. 

I do not mean to debate whether material and social factors such as 
the tremendous expansion of capitalist economy, the advance of science, the 
growth of cities, and the increasing social and geographic mobility of the 
people were less important than religion in shaping American ideals. 
What is proposed is that insofar as equalitarian, perfectionist optimism 



is a spiritual inheritance in America, John Wesley, George WMtefield, 
and Samuel Hopkins more than Benjamin Franklin or Jean Jacques Rous- 
seau were its progenitors. And the path of its progress is as clearly seen in 
the revivals and missionary labors of countless Baptist, Methodist, and New 
School Calvinist preachers as in the social thought of an Emerson or a 
William Ellery Charming. 

The reader has the right to know about two important points of view 
which have pervaded the research and the writing for this book. One is that 
the beliefs and practices of the mass of ordinary men are most important. 
Preoccupation with the learned and sophisticated minority is as misleading 
as overattention to the crackpot fringe. Neither course will disclose the 
part which religion really played in our country's development. Especial- 
ly must we go beyond the solemn quarterlies published for clergymen and 
sift the literature which their parishioners read. Vast collections of devo- 
tional and biographical tracts, popular histories of revival and reform 
movements, and files of weekly denominational newspapers remain almost 
unexplored. Here lie the records of events as contemporaries actually saw 
them, interpreted in the light of their own doctrines, hopes, and prejudices. 
The only problem is to avoid spending the flower of one's youth in those 
dark and dusty areas where university librarians shelve religious books. 

The second viewpoint is that during the nineteenth century the vital 
center of American Protestantism was in the cities rather than the rural 
West. It is strange that long after historians with other special interests have 
sharply revised Frederick Jackson Turner's thesis that die frontier was the 
matrix of American ideals, students of church history are still absorbed 
with it. A recent example is Charles A. Johnson's fine work on the frontier 
camp meeting, which explains at length the disappearance of the institu- 
tion in the very years when it was hitting its stride in the Middle Atlantic 
and New England states. The day came, as we shall see, when revival 
measures were as proper in Boston as in Kentucky. Oberlin College, often 
considered a product of Western enthusiasm, was fully as much an arm of 
Eastern urbanity. Charles G. Finney repeatedly raised funds for it in Eng- 

Further investigation may demonstrate that the currents of religious 
fervor which swept back and forth across the Atlantic were more important 
than anything which happened on the frontier. It is significant that every 
prominent American evangelist, from Lorenzo Dow to John Wilbur Chap- 
man, gained his reputation in part from reports of his success in overseas 


cities. Great churchmen of the 1850*$ like Robert Baird, founder of the 
Evangelical Alliance; Edward N. Kirk, pastor of Mt, Vernon Church, Bos- 
ton; and William Arthur, a leader among British Wesleyans thought their 
revival faith not a wilderness byway, but an avenue of ecumenicity down 
which the gospel army would roll to conquer the world. In our day, Billy 
Graham seems to have reawakened this belief. 

A final note is in order to persons other than professional historians who 
I hope will read this book. The purpose of historical study is to explore fully 
and summarize accurately what really happened in the past. Scholars do 
not pretend to have achieved absolute objectivity, any more than the old- 
time Methodist preachers who professed sanctification meant to claim 
sinless perfection. Accuracy and impartiality are, however, the historian's 
cherished goals. It happens that I hold deep affection for the faith of the 
revivalists whose labors this book recounts. Had this not been so, the 
volume would very likely not have been written. But my intent has been 
to get the facts straight. Unless Christianity is dependent upon propaganda, 
its case is better served when historians hew to this line as best they can, 
letting the chips fall where they may. 

Without attempting to name all of those to whom I am indebted for aid, 
I should mention particularly Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr., now professor 
emeritus at Harvard, without whose counsel and encouragement I should 
never have completed the task; my wife, Anne Wright; the staffs of the 
marvelous group of libraries clustered around Boston; the members of the 
Brewer Prize Committee of the American Society of Church History; and, 
finally, my father and mother holiness preachers and friends of reform 
at whose knees I learned to appreciate both Christian faith and social 




I. The Inner Structure of American Protestantism ............ 15 

A careful distinction of the various sects and an appreciation of 
their size, geographical distribution, and inner divisions is essential 
to the study of American religion. 

II. The Social Influence of the Churches .................... 34 

Despite the absence of a legally established faith, foreign travelers 
and thoughtful Americans believed that evangelical Protestantism 
had made itself the religion of the land and that its clergymen were 
the arbiters of public morals. 

III. The Resurgence of Revivalism 1840-57 .................. 45 

Although professional evangelists like Jacob Knapp and Charles G. 
Finney suffered temporary eclipse, revival measures won wider ac- 
ceptance each year, particularly among urban pastors, in Baptist, 
Congregational, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist com- 

IV. Annus Mirabilis 1858 ................................ 63 

The Awakening of 1858 spread from New York to every city in 
the North by means of daily interdenominational prayer meetings. 
It drew serious support from all denominations including even 
the most liberal and liturgical ones and stamped devotion to 
evangelistic measures deep on the Protestant mind. 

V. The Fruits of Fervor .................................. 80 

Revivalism 's triumph brought about an enlarged role for lay leader- 
ship in the American churches, undergirded Protestantism's first 
ecumenical movement, created a widespread new ethical seriousness, 
and gave Arminian doctrines pre-eminence over Orthodox Calvin- 
ism in all but the Old School Presbyterian and a few minor sects. 

VL Evangelical Unitarianism 95 

A powerful drive toward evangelical doctrines dominated the Uni- 
tarian fold, an event made possible because revivals had undermined 
the old orthodoxy and popularized a faith which shared Unitarian- 
ism's historic ethical, spiritual, and antisectarian concerns. 

VII. The Holiness Revival at Oberlin 103 

The Oberlin preachers spread doctrines of Christian perfection 
which, though at times resembling and at others differing from the 
Wesleyan view, expressed in dramatic fashion the hunger for a 
higher, holier life which was sweeping through all of American 

VIII. Sanctification in American Methodism 114 

The greatest intellectual and ecclesiastical leaders of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, North, joined Mrs. Phoebe Palmer and a host 
of popular preachers in restoring the experience of "perfect love" to 
a central place in Wesleyan religion. 

IX. Revivalism and Perfectionism 135 

In the revivals of 1858 and following years, the holiness movement 
gained wide favor because it embodied in radical fashion the ideals 
and practices of the new evangelism. It also reflected on a popular 
level the social and spiritual strivings of Emerson's transcendentalist 
philosophy and fulfilled a typically American urge to make Chris- 
tianity work. 

X. The Evangelical Origins of Social Christianity 148 

The preoccupation with social problems which later dominated 
American Protestantism stems from the zeal and compassion which 
the mid-century revivalists awakened for sinning and suffering men. 
And it rests in large measure upon social theories which they origi- 

XL The Churches Help the Poor 163 

Evangelists and perfectionists led the way in both expounding and 
applying the doctrine of Christian responsibility toward the im- 
poverished, through scores of city missions, the settlement project 
at Five Points, New York City, and the social services of the 
Y.M.C.A. and the United States Christian Commission. 

XII. Christian Liberty and Human Bondage: the Paradox of Slavery 178 

The attack on slavery, in which radical liberals and evangelicals at 
first freely united, soon raised questions which went to the heart of 
the relations between gospel, church, and world, tearing apart the 
antislavery organizations and creating inner dilemmas which the 
churches largely failed to overcome. 

XIII. The Spiritual Warfare Against Slavery 204 

Within the churches revival men and holiness advocates, except for 
Mrs. Palmer's circle, most readily broke through the barriers which 
held others back from antislavery agitation; in the process they 
adopted a liberal approach to the interpretation of Scripture and 
replaced the Orthodox Calvinists as champions of theocracy. 

XIV. The Gospel of the Kingdom 225 

The hope for Christ's early reign on earth, reflected in the zeal with 
which William Miller's Adventists prepared for His return in 1843, 
exerted a far more important social influence through the identifica- 
tion of post-millennial doctrines with the patriotic idea that 
America's destiny is to establish democracy and drive poverty and 
injustice from the earth. 

Critical Essay on the Sources of Information 238 

Index 249 



The Inner Structure 
of American Protestantism 

Evangelical Protestantism reached the summit of its in- 
fluence in America during the last half of the nineteenth century. If the 
years after the Civil War witnessed its maturity and initial decline, the 
twenty-five years before were the era of its painful but portentous adoles- 

During this period revival fervor emerged from the frontier to dominate 
the urban religious scene. A widespread aspiration for Christian perfection 
complemented in many ways the sociaJ idealism which endeavored to reform 
the drunkard, free the slaves, elevate womankind, and banish poverty and 
vice from the country. Exuberant churchmen rededicated themselves to the 
dream of making America a Christian nation. 

But they found that both sectarian division and the readjustments of our 
society to industrial and urban growth complicated their task. Catholic 
immigration, the misery of city slums, and a burgeoning worship of wealth 
made more difficult the work of converting the nation and the world. Mean- 
while, the paradox and danger inherent in the mounting crisis over Negro 
slavery laid cold hands upon evangelical hopes. 

The impulse to retreat to the simpler childhood of both the church and 
the state was, in such circumstances, inevitably widespread. Fletcher Harper, 
editor of the nation's most flourishing young magazine, expressed this urge 
clearly in an editorial written in 1854. "There can be no doubt," he wrote, 
"that the tendency at the present day is to magnify the political, the social, 
the secular, or what may be called the worldly-humanitarian aspects" of "pro- 
fessedly religious movements." He lamented the fact that at anniversary 
meetings of religious societies it was becoming "almost as common to hear 
about the regeneration of the race as the salvation of souls." The Christian 
millennium seemed increasingly expected to be ushered in by political move- 
ments "and to be itself a sort of politico-religious golden age." Missionary and 
Bible societies won greatest praise for their civilizing rather than their 
spiritual influence. 



Harper complained that clergymen and laymen alike rejoiced when they 
could persuade a politician or "some old hero of a general" to "harangue on 
such utilities before the annual religious gatherings" as though the testi- 
monies of public men were necessary to vindicate the gospel. He warned 
that if these aspects of religion continued to be presented as the chief gwnmd 
of its support, Christianity would cease to serve the republic. Instead of the 
church evangelizing the world, the world would secularize the church. 1 

The young editor s statement points up many of the problems which have 
beset social Christianity ever since. But it also brings into focus the perplex- 
ing issues which faced American Protestantism in the twenty years prior to 
the Civil War. Harper was a "spiritual" Methodist and a loyal democrat 
whose successful publishing ventures had only recently brought him to 
wealth and fame. Political conservatism, particularly on the issue of slavery, 
fitted well the pattern of his life. Men such as he felt most keenly the tensions 
arising from the renewed efforts of Protestantism to dominate American so- 
ciety. Political caution combined with sectarian loyalties to make them skep- 
tical of the reforming spirit which the Bible, tract, mission, and antislavery 
societies had spread in the churches. Their yearning for a return to spiritual 
religion, thus avoiding the pain of dealing with the hard facts of social evil, 
conflicted with an equally strong and authentically Christian desire to see 
those evils done away. 

Controversies inevitably arose over the means by which churchmen were 
seeking to make America a godly commonwealth. What was the function 
of revivalism? How might human efforts to win souls be reconciled with the 
older Calvinist view of divine election? Whence, was the power by which 
men^and societies could be lifted to a higher ethical plane, God's grace, or 
man's resolution? Was either a pure heart or a perfect society attainable in 
this world? What were the nature and meaning of the millennial hope? 
How could Christian liberty become a bridge to democracy for all mankind 
when year by year the South laid a heavier yoke upon its Negro slaves? If 
it were granted that slavery was an evil, how and under whose leadership 
ought it to be destroyed? 

Such were the painful issues of revival religion's hectic youth. From the 
effort to resolve them came many of the conflicts, the achievements, and 
the tragedies of twentieth-century Protestantism. These were the years of 
decision which were to shape the character of America's faith. 

1 Harper's New Monthly Magazine, IX (1854), pp. 115-16; XH (1856), pp. 841, 843. 



Before we venture upon the fascinating story of how the churches met 
these issues, however, we must first survey their temporal and physical 
resources and make clear a few of the chief differences between the various 

Numerically, organized Protestantism had attained a strength greater 
than at any previous point in our history. The census of 1860 reported 
38,183 church buildings, one for every 608 persons, valued at $87,000,000. 
Only one-twentieth of their total seating capacity was in Roman Catholic 
edifices. While between 1832 and 1854 the population had increased 88 
per cent, the number of evangelical clergymen had grown 175 per cent 
Numerous part-time ministers, including 8,500 local preachers of Meth- 
odist persuasion, supplemented the work of 26,842 professionals. The 
census did not attempt to enumerate communicants, but a compilation 
from various of the better sources indicates that in 1855, 4,088,675 persons 
out of a population of more than 27,000,000 held membership in a Prot- 
estant congregation. 2 

* See Robert Baird, State and Prospects of Religion in America. . . . (London, 1855), pp. 
27-31 and the table below, pp. 20-21. 

United States, Statistics of the United States ... in 1860, compiled from the Original 
Returns of the . . . Eighth Census (Washington, 1866), "Miscellaneous Volume," pp. 352- 
501, will yield the following statistics, gathered by Lewis G. Vander Velde, The Presby- 
terian Churches and the Federal Union, 1861-1869 (Harvard Historical Studies, XXXHI, 
Cambridge, 1932), p. 5. 

Accommodations In Slave States Property Value 

Methodist 6,259,799 2,788,338 $ 33,093,371 

Baptist 4,044,220 2,413,818 21,079,104 

Presbyterian 2,565,949 943,746 27,840,525 

Roman Catholic 1,404,437 266,313 26,774,119 

Congregational 956,351 13,327,511 

Protestant Episcopal 847,296 287,546 21,665,698 

Lutheran 757,637 143,603 5,385,179 

Christian 681,016 273,900 2,518,045 

Union 371,899 157,235 1,370,212 

German Reformed 273,697 26,975 2,422,670 

Friends 269,084 2,544,507 

Universalist 235,219 2,856,095 

Dutch Reformed 211,068 4,453,850 

Unitarian 138,213 4,338,316 

Jewish 34,412 1,135,300 

Moravian 20,316 227,450 

Adventist 17,128 101,170 

Swedenborgian 15,128 321,200 

Spiritualist 6,275 7,500 

Shaker 5,200 41,000 

Minor Sects 14,150 895,100 

TOTALS 19,128,761 $172,397,922 



The records of toth the census takers and the churches were, of course, 
subject to considerable error. But a greater distortion would result from 
thoughtless comparison of these figures with those of either contemporary 
Europe or modern America. 

To sympathetic Old World observers the state-church system to which 
they were accustomed seemed more efficient in enrolling members but af- 
forded no guarantee of the sort of active religious life they found in 
America. Philip Schaff noted in 1854 that Berlin's forty churches, serving 
a population of 450,000 but attracting only about 30,000 weekly worshipers, 
compared poorly with the 250 which ministered to New York City's 
600,000 citizens, all supported by voluntary contributions. "There are in 
America probably more awakened souls," SchafT declared, "and more in- 
dividual self-sacrifice for religious purposes, proportionally, than in any 
other country in the world, Scotland alone, perhaps, excepted." Alexis de 
Tocqueville had earlier affirmed that there was "no country in the whole 
world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the 
souls of men than in America." Even a rather skeptical Tory like Thomas 
C. Grattan was compelled to agree. 3 

Certainly by modern standards, church membership was a strenuous 
affair. All evangelical sects required of communicants a personal experience 
of conversion and a consistent life. Two worship services and Sunday 
school on the Sabbath were customary, along with a midweek gathering 
for prayer. The Methodists invariably kept new converts on "probation" for 
many months. 4 Wesley's followers also attended a weekly class meeting and 
more than the usual number of revivals and camp meetings throughout 
the year. Laymen of most denominations were responsible for a large 
amount of missionary and benevolent work in the towns and cities. All 
these activities were pursued with a seriousness absent today. 5 

Contemporary observers frequently praised the homogeneity of American 
Protestantism. Though there were numerous sects, Christianity abroad, 
taken as a whole, was no less divided. Twenty-six of the forty-odd groups 
in the United States had migrated across the Atlantic. Most others were 

* Philip Schaff, America. A Sketch of the Political, Social, and Religious Character of 
the United States . . . (New York, 1855), pp. 94, 118; Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy 
in America (tr. Henry Reeve; New York, 1900), I, 308; Thomas C. Grattan, Civilized 
America (London, 1859), II, 337, 340. 

4 Isabella (Bird) Bishop, The Aspects of Religion in the United States of America 
(London, 1859), pp. 168-69; cf. Schaff, oy. cit., pp. xii, 117. 

6 See J. H. Grand Pierre, A Parisian Pastors Glance at America (Boston, 1854), pp. 



simply new combinations of Old World ethnic and religious divisions. 
Methodistic sects accounted for a fourth of the 300,000 members enrolled 
in the twenty-seven smaller denominations which claimed less than 50,000 
members. Two stanchly conservative ones, the Dutch Reformed and 
Associate Reformed Presbyterian, owned another fourth. Neither Shakers, 
Mormons, nor Adventists were really typical of these small groups. All 
made such little impact, particularly in the cities, that their influence was 
generally disparaged. 

Several travelers agreed that, in the absence of a state church, "the 
distinction between church and sect properly disappears." 7 A Parisian 
pastor who had supposed that the multiplicity of denominations must of 
necessity "present an obstacle to the progress of the spirit of brotherly love" 
was astonished at the genuineness of their "harmony and good feeling/* 
"I have understood better, since my visit to the United States," he wrote, 
"why our American brethren have shown so little forwardness to unite 
with us in the Evangelical Alliance. It is because they have its reality at 
home." Isabella Bishop noted with pleasure the numerous exchanges of 
pulpits, union prayer meetings, and joint efforts in Bible Society, Sunday 
school, and mission work. She decided that the sectarian spirit of Europe's 
churches arose not so much from "conscientious scruples and differences 
of opinion on government or doctrine" as from the fact that some had en- 
dowments and some did not. 8 

Further generalization about Protestants as a whole, however, would be 
misleading without an elementary differentiation of the various denomina- 
tions. The religious life of the average American was centered around one 
of these. He followed its guidance and discipline and earnestly defended its 
customs. Though differences in doctrine and church polity may have 
arisen from variations in environment or social status, the members took 
them seriously. Until these are understood, the danger of quoting Old 
School Presbyterians or Universalists for "typical" Protestant views is 
always near. 

9 See especially Georges Fisch, Nine Monies in the United States During the Crisis 
(London, 1863), pp. 32-33; Robert Baird, The Progress and Prospects of Christianity in 
the United States of America (London, 1851), pp. 268-69; Schaff, op. cit., p. 125. Cf. the 
table below, pp. 20-21. 

7 Schaff, op. cit., pp. xiv, 115, 117, 120-21; Fisch, op. eft., pp. 23, 64; Tames Dixon, 
Personal Narrative of a Tour through a Part of the United States and Canada . . . (New 
York, 1849), pp. 188-89. 

'Grand Pierre, op, cit., pp. 63, 66; Bishop, op. cit., pp. 166-67, Cf. Age*nor fitienne <3e 
Gasparin, The Uprising of a Great People. The United States in J861 (tr. Mary L. Booth; 
New York, 1861), pp. 60-68. 



The statistical table below lists the ten organizations numbering over 
100,000 members with which we have primarily to deal. They were 
separated from the twenty-seven small groups by seven which claimed 
between 50,000 and 100,000 communicants. Five of these latter the 
Methodist Protestant, United Brethren in Christ, Antimission Baptist, 
Freewill Baptist and Cumberland Presbyterian were largely rural and 
sectional, and the German Reformed was confined to a single ethnic stock. 
The seventh, the Society of Friends, suffered from the Hicksite division 
and was, in any case, so predominantly rural as to sustain in 1861 only 
four of the four hundred churches in Philadelphia. However, the Quaker 
interest in social problems raises them, together with the even less numer- 
ous Unitarians, to a place of significance alongside the ten larger denomi- 
nations. 9 



M. E. (North) . . 
M. E. (South) .... 
Metk Protestant . . . 
United Brethren . . . 

Wesleyan Meth 

Evang. Assoc 

A. M. E. (Bethel) . 
A. M. E. (Zion) . . . 
Calvinistic Meth. . , . 
Primitive Meth. . . . 

In 1855 

In 1865 








Increase Per Cent 















6,203 (Reported in 1865 
4,500 4,500* 

1,100 1,805 

with A.M.E. Bethel) 


TOTAL METHODISTS . . 1,577,014 

Reg. Bapt (North) 31 1,321 

Reg. Bapt. (South) 497,433 

Disciples 170,000* 

Antimission Bapt ....... 66,507 

Freewill Bapt 51,775 

Seventh-Day Bapt 6,321 

General Bapt. 2,189 



























* Fisch, op. eft., p. 33. 





Fresb. (O. School) 





287,360 68,097 
138,074 -2,378 
103,062 13,062 
2,561 ) 
1,000* ( 
67,900 / 42,121 
16,660 ) 

Presb. (N. School) . . 

Cumberland Presb 

Assoc. Reformed 
Assoc. Presb 

United Presb 

Reformed Presb 

Evang. Lutheran . . . 




. 269,985 




German Reformed 

Dutch Reformed 


Ch. of the Brethren . . 

Tenn. Synod, Lutheran . 
Reformed Mennonites . . . 



Congregationalists . . . 
Prot. Episcopal 





Universalist . . . 


Christ. Connection . . 

Hicksite Friends .... 



TOTAL ALL OTHERS . . . 560,054 
TOTAL PROTESTANTS . . . 4,088,67s 10 








10 The figures for 1855 are compiled from Baird, State and Prospects, p. 31, and Joseph 
Belcher, The Religious Denominations in the United States: Their History, Doctrine, 
Government and Statistics (Philadelphia, 1857), pp. 242-938, passim. Those for 1865 
appear in Charles C. Goss, Statistical History of the First Century of American Methodism 
. . . (New York, 1866), pp. 110-13. Starred figures seem to be estimates. 



The outstanding fact is that by 1855 the Methodists and Baptists had 
come to a dominant position, accounting for 2,712,560, or nearly 70 per 
cent of the total number of Protestant communicants. Wesley's followers 
alone numbered 38 per cent of the whole. Although Regular Baptists 
including those in both North and South formed the most numerous 
single group, the Northern and Southern branches of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, claiming 783,000 and 579,000 members respectively* 
were together far more numerous and each more than twice the size of 
any of the others. The New and Old School wings of Presbyterianism 
when combined, for example, numbered scarcely half as many members as 
the Methodist Church, North. 

The major difference between the two sects is that, whereas the Baptists 
were predominantly rural and Southern, mid-century Methodism had 
made great advances in the cities and in the Eastern states. By 1865 New 
York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey were among the seven 
states most heavily populated with John Wesley's followers. The Phila- 
delphia, Pittsburgh, East Baltimore, New York, and New York East con- 
ferences the latter centered around New York City outnumbered in 
that order the largest Western conferences of the church. The denomina- 
tional publishing business was located in the national metropolis, as were 
the tract and missionary societies. The bishops who did not reside there 
were thus frequent visitors to Manhattan's forty congregations. Cincinnati 
filled a similar place for Methodists beyond the Alleghenies. 11 The ten 
most populous Baptist states in 1854 were, by contrast, all to be found in 
slave territory except New York, second to Virginia with 87,538 com- 
municants, and Massachusetts, ninth, with 32,107. In the six years preced- 
ing, the Baptist population in most Eastern states was at a standstill or 
actually declining, while rapid growth continued in the West and South. 12 

11 Goss, op. dt., p. 109; William Warren Sweet, The Methodist Episcopal Church, and 
the Civil War (Cincinnati, 1912), p. 111. Grand Pierre, op. dt., p. 59, lists the churches 
in New YorJc City in 1853 as follows: Presbyterian, 54; Protestant Episcopal, 46; Methodist, 
42; Baptist, 33; Dutch Reformed, 17; Congregational, 9; Unitarian, 2; and Roman Catholic, 
22. Schaff, op. dt., p. 94, gives a somewhat different set of figures, hut without change in 
the proportions, except that he notes five Lutheran congregations. 

12 Tahulations taken from the denominational almanacs for the years 1848 and 1854 
appear in John Winehrenner, ed., History of All the Religious Denominations in The 
United States . . . (Harrishuig, 1848), p. 71, and Belcher, op. dt., p, 242. They show the 
relative change as follows: 

v , 1848 1854 

York ............ 87,573 87,538 Virginia .............. 79,563 89,929 

Massachusetts .......... 29,926 32,107 Kentucky ........... 60,991 69 098 

Pennsylvania .......... 28,125 30,053 Georgia ............... 48,357 65,639 



Thus when the moral earnestness characteristic of Both denominations 
provoked the divisions over slavery, the result was to increase greatly the 
relative strength of Methodism in the North. The Southern Baptist Con- 
vention, organized in May, 1845, to sponsor home and foreign missions in 
which slaveholders might be admitted to service, represented by 1854 over 
60 per cent of the Regular Baptists. The 311,000 adhering to the Northern 
church compared poorly with their Methodist fellows, who numbered two 
and one-half times as many. 13 

The Southern branches were, of course, in Koth cases more rural and 
provincial, more bound by the association with slavery to a conservative 
outlook. Tennessee contained more members of the Methodist Church, 
South, than any other state. Approximately a fourth of the whole mem- 
bership in South Carolina as much as 60 per cent was listed under 
the heading "colored and infants." 14 The Baptists, it should be noted, 
considered that their denomination was not divided, but simply organized 
separately for the better prosecution of missionary work. Rancor between 
the two divisions was considerably less than in the case of the Methodists, 
whose communion, being more closely knit, required more force to sunder. 15 

Undoubtedly the organizational structure of Methodism contributed to 
its greater success in the cities. Government of the denomination was in 
the hands of the clergymen, who seemed as self-sacrificing a band as any 
Wesley's stern discipline might have asked. The bishops, elected by 
the quadrennial General Conference chief governing body of the church 
had complete power to transfer the ministers to any place where their 
services might promote the corporate aim "to reform the nation and to 
spread scriptural holiness over these lands." Lest any become attached to 
green pastures, all were moved every two or three years. It was thus 
comparatively easy to send the best men to the cities. There they usually 

Maine 21,223 19,775 Ohio 24,612 24,693 

Connecticut 16,061 16,355 Illinois 12,594 19,259 

New Jersey 1 1,637 13,362 Missouri 16,769 24,006 

Belcher, a Baptist pastor in Philadelphia, evidently did not think any of the buildings 
housing the thirty-three congregations of his persuasion in New York City equal to those 
in Southern cities whose pictures he printed, pp. 189, 215-23. 

13 See again the statistical table above, pp. 20-21. 

14 Belcher, op. cit., p. 604. 

15 Cf. Albert Henry Newman, A History of the Baptist Chiirches in the United States 
(Philip Schaff and others, eds., The American Church History Series, II, New York, 
1894), pp. 447-51, with Charles Baumer Swaney, Episcopal Methodism and Slavery; with 
Sidelights on Ecclesiastical Politics (Boston, 1926), pp. 117-88. 



maintained "free churches" in the face of the growing custom of charging 
pew rents, a prop for social pretension. 16 

Lifelong membership in such an organized, mobile fellowship of min- 
isters provided a training in preaching and pastoral skills denied to the 
long-term shepherd of a congregationally governed flock. Facing a new 
challenge every two years was a fair substitute for the formal education 
which Methodist preachers, no less than Baptist, usually lacked. The 
former profited, too, from frequent exposure to the sermons and platform 
versatility of the bishops, who preached often and well at conferences and 
camp meetings. 

Whether in rural or urban areas, however, both churches appealed to 
the plain men of the period. Only occasionally did they win converts 
from the upper ranks of society. The Negroes free to make a choice joined 
one or the other. A French visitor found in 1860 that the colored popula- 
tion of Louisville was divided into two coteries the "aristocracy" being 
Baptist. Among whites, wherever only a simple class structure had 
developed, members of the two sects might completely dominate society. 
Eleven of the thirteen congressmen representing Indiana in 1852 were 
Methodists, as well as the governor and one of her senators. 17 

Intense denominational zeal, frequent revivals stressing individual con- 
version, and displays of great fervor in hymns and "heart-touching" sermons 
were the chief means by which both won the loyalty of the common 
people. The rite of baptism by immersion, whose emotional symbolism was 
doubtless more impressive to the average man than the long sermons 
demonstrating it to be the scriptural "mode," was no stronger advantage to 
the one than the camp meeting and class meeting were to the other. 
Laymen were encouraged to share active leadership in the services of 
both, thousands of Methodist 'local ministers" filling with better super- 
vision the place which farmer-preachers supplied in the other communion. 
Women were as welcome as men to participate in revivals and in testi- 
mony, prayer and class meetings, as often as not becoming spiritual leaders. 18 

The doctrines of salvation which each proclaimed heightened these 

16 Wade Crawford Barclay, Early American Methodism, 1769-1844, vol. II, To Reform 
the Nation (History of Methodist Missions, Part I, New York, 1950), pp. 287-301; Goss, 
op. dt., pp. 171-73. 

1T Fisch, op. dt., pp. 29-30; Goss, op. dt., pp. 165-80. 

18 See criticisms in Schaff, op. dt., pp. 173-75, 207-12, and Alexander Blailde, The 
Philosophy of Sectarianism; or, a Classified View of the Christian Sects in the United 
States CBoston, 1855), pp. 324-28, 330-40. 



anti-aristocratic tendencies. Neither was stanchly Calvinistic. The Baptist 
endeavor to maintain the form of orthodoxy amidst revival efforts resulted 
in a practical nullification of the idea of unconditional election but not of 
final perseverance. The consequent stress which they eventually laid 
upon the "eternal security" of baptized believers appealed powerfully to 
weak and sinning men. In contrast, Methodists had proclaimed free will 
and free grace from the beginning. Wesley modified the Calvinist notion 
of man's total depravity, to which the doctrine of predestination was re- 
lated. He taught instead that God had mitigated our sin by giving every man 
the ability to respond to the call of the gospel. Free, but morally responsible 
to yield to God, every sinner might hope to find at the Methodist mourner's 
bench a positive inner assurance of personal salvation. He then might seek 
with confidence the "second blessing/' called entire sanctification, which 
would cleanse away the moral depravity of his soul. 

Thus to the hopeful concepts of free will and a universal atonement, 
Methodism added the promise of man's immediate perfectibility, not by 
reason or education, but through the operation of the spirit of God. Both 
doctrines hastened the church's growth. So the Rev. Alexander Blaikie, 
pastor of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Boston, com- 
plained in 1854: "Every man ... is born an Arminian, and while he must 
be born again to be a true Calvinist, in the mean time all that is requisite 
to make him a Methodist is the adoption of the chosen opinions, order 
and usages of the Rev. John Wesley. 1 ' The one which pandered most, he 
felt, to human pride was the aspiration for "personal and sinless perfec- 
tion. 19 

The general popularity of Arminian views in America is indicated by 
the fact that, although both the Methodist and Baptist denominations suf- 
fered from several secessions, only those from the latter involved chiefly 
doctrinal issues. The withdrawal of the Methodist Protestants in 1830 
was due to a dispute over lay participation in the church government, and 
that of the Wesley an Methodist Connection in 1843, over slavery. The 
Antimission Baptists, on the other hand, numbering 66,500 members by 
1854, represented an arch-Calvinistic reaction against the "creaturely 
activity" of missionaries sent to the West. Their leaders were frontier 
preachers who felt themselves overshadowed by better educated Easterners. 

19 Goss, op. dt., pp. 183-86; Blaikie, op. cit., pp. 324, 325. On the subject of sanctifica- 
tion generally, see Barclay, op. cit., pp. 314-19; John L. Peters, Christian Perfection and 
American Methodism (New York and Nashville, 1956), pp. 39-46, 90-133; and ch. VIE o 
this book. 



The Freewill Baptists were at the opposite extreme, sectionally and the- 
ologically. Nearly 60 per cent of their members resided in rural New 
England. The church dated its history from 1780, when the Regular 
Baptist Church in New Hampshire ejected Elder Benjamin Randall "on 
account of his belief in free will and in a free and full salvation." It had 
grown by means of revivals and opposition to the closed communion, but 
at mid-century its increase proceeded at the slow pace characteristic of 
all Eastern Baptists. The Antimission group was steadily declining; after 
six years in America, Philip Schaff knew of it only by hearsay. 20 

Despite their fewer numbers Presbyterians exerted a greater social in- 
fluence than either Methodists or Baptists, particularly when they were able 
to act in co-operation with New England's Congregationalists. Their church 
was, in the words of one observer, "the religious form preferred by the in- 
dustrial and commercial classes, by men of enterprise and initiative/' Al- 
though both Baptists and Methodists far outnumbered the 500,000 Presby- 
terians in the nation, New York City contained more of their congregations 
than of either of the more popular sects. 21 

But the principal denomination of the group was seriously divided. In 
1837 the conservative Scotch element in the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., 
found itself in control of the General Assembly. They voted to exclude 
several "Puritan" synods which had in previous years blocked action against 
the revival methods and alleged Arminian heresies which Albert Barnes, 
N. S. S. Beman, Lyman Beecher, and George Duffield had championed. 
The ousted brethren formed the "Constitutional Assembly/' commonly 
called the New School, after an abortive attempt to force re-entry into the 
parent group at its session the next year. Thereafter, synods and presby- 
teries throughout the church, including those in the Southern states of 
Virginia, Tennessee, and South Carolina, split into factions adhering to 
one or the other of the two bodies. 

That slavery was not the chief divisive issue is plain from the fact that 
the Huguenot element dominant in the Charleston, South Carolina, Union 
Presbytery was able to force out the Scotch minority and carry most of 
the churches there into the New School Assembly. The Southern members 

^ S 9!i, tlie Wesle ? an Methodists, contrast Peters, op. tit., pp. 124-27, with Whitney R. 
Cross, The Burned-Over District . . . (Ithaca, N. Y., 1950), pp. 263, 267. See also Belcher, 
op. at, pp. 242, 319; anon., The American Christian Record: Containing the History, 
Confession of Faith, and Statistics of Each Retizi&us Denomination in the United States 
and Europe (New York, 1860), pp. 32-34; Schaff, op. dt., p. 206. 
11 Fisch, op dt., p. 28; see earlier, p. 22. 



in the New School were sufficiently numerous to block effective action 
against slavery until the eve of the Civil War, though they were unable 
to silence the long and feverish debates on the question. In the Old 
School the proportionately larger membership from slaveholding states 
and the conservatism of the Scotch on social issues combined to muzzle 
entirely discussion of the institution. 

A more important line of demarcation than slavery was the conflicting 
attitude which the two assemblies took toward co-operation in nonsectarian 
missionary ventures. The New School favored interdenominational organ- 
izations. It supported the American Home Missionary Society, the American 
Education Society, and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign 
Missions. Its leaders were, therefore, deeply embarrassed when the rising 
tide of sectarian sentiment among Congregationalists caused them in 1852 
to scuttle the historic Plan of Union between the two denominations and 
to develop parallel organizations of their own for Western work. 22 

The Old School grew rapidly in the South and Southwest, untroubled 
by competition from other strictly Calvinist groups. The New School made 
slower progress, hardly gaining enough in twenty years to offset the loss 
in 1857 of its proslavery presbyteries. Prolonged indecision over the slavery 
issue made its synods prey to the Congregationalists in sections like northern 
Ohio and New York where abolitionism was rife. The Scotch following 
was scattered widely through rural America, however, while over one half 
of the New School membership was concentrated in New York and New 
Jersey. Nevertheless, the Old School exercised powerful influence in the 
urban East through Princeton University, The New York Observer an 
important religious weekly and a dozen great metropolitan pulpits. The 
noise of Presbyterian strife thus rose not along sectional boundaries but in 
the halls between college classrooms and across busy New York and 
Philadelphia street corners. 23 

The division illustrates how revivalism and Arminianism went hand in 
hand. The Cumberland Presbyterians, organized in 1810 out of the great 
awakening in Tennessee and reporting 90,000 members by 1855, had 

"E. H. Gillett, History of the Presbyterian Church in The United States of America 
(Philadelphia, 1864), II, 553-55, 558-63 and passim. 

23 Ibid., II, 555-58; anon., American Christian Record, p. 192. For figures "by states 
see Belcher, op. cit., p. 690. 

Belcher's account of the nature of the division, pp. 683-84, resembles that in Wine* 
brenner, op, cit., pp. 497-98; Vander Velde, op. cit., pp. 13-15 and passim, stresses the 
Scotch-Puritan conflict. See later, pp. 185-87. 



long since declared for free will and a universal election of grace. Although 
the New School Assembly preserved the old Confession of Faith, no one 
could forget that the schism had originated during the argument about 
the trials of Duffield, Barnes, and Beecher for their Arminian views. As 
successive revivals swept the cities of the North, free grace became the 
Assembly's most prominent doctrine. 

To be sure, few thoughtful New School clergymen accepted Finney's 
extreme view that all men possessed a "natural ability" to choose the right. 
They did, however, replace the notion that original sin was imputed guilt 
with the view that it was a diseased condition of the moral nature. This was 
very near to the Wesley an position. It was only one step to the conception 
that salvation was also subjectively real, that divine grace might heal the 
sinfulness of the soul. William E. Boardman and many others took this 
path to perfectionism. By the late 1850's, as we shall see, Methodist, New 
School, and Oberlin perfectionists found litde practical difference in their 
doctrines. 24 

But whether they were New or Old School Presbyterians, Dutch or 
German Reformed, Congregationalists or Cumberland Presbyterians, the 
followers of Calvin in America were contenders, as Philip Schaff put it, for 
the absolute supremacy of the Holy Scriptures, "thorough and moral re- 
form, individual, personal Christianity, freedom and independence of 
congregational life, and strict church discipline." 25 The salvation in which 
they believed may have begun as a transaction in the inscrutable mind of 
the Eternal, but it ended in the radical moral transformation of human 
character. For the elect, at least, this was as optimistic a hope for man's 
perfection as some others in vogue in the nineteenth century. And the 
preaching of a Finney or an Albert Barnes readily suggested that a larger 
proportion than earlier supposed of those "called" might indeed be "chosen." 

Aside from the Congregationalists, whose gradual departure from the 
old theology under the leadership of Nathaniel W. Taylor and Horace 
Bushnell are well known, 20 and the Episcopalians, described on every 
hand as "the fashionable church of America," 27 no other group exerted 
an influence remotely approaching that of the Methodists, Baptists, and 

** See anon., American Christian Record, pp. 170-71; George Duffield, "The Doctrines 
of the New School Presbyterian Church," Bibliotheca Sacra, XX (1863), pp. 608-15; 
Schaff, op. cit., p. 145; Winebrenner, op. cit., pp. 493-94. See ch. VH. 

38 Schaff, op. cit., pp. 111-12. 

a *The issues were intertwined with the question of revivalism, to he discussed later. 

37 Fisch, op. cit., p. 28; Bishop, op. cit., p. 33; Schaff, op. cit., pp. 154-55. 



Presbyterians. The Disciples of Christ, who claimed over 100,000 members 
by 1855, were growing rapidly in the West, led by their founder, Alexander 
Campbell. But they were not yet in a position greatly to influence American 
society and suffered in any case from the common cause made against 
them by the three dominant sects. Although the Universalists in New 
England were still expanding, they were no longer the church of the 
common people. Methodists and Baptists on the one hand and erratic 
movements like Millerism and Spiritualism on the other were increasingly 
filling this place. 

Both the Evangelical Lutheran and the Protestant Episcopal Churches 
deserve a separate word, however, in view of their unique problems and 
future rapid growth. 

The middle twenty years of the nineteenth century witnessed a sharp 
controversy among the heirs of the Anglican tradition in America, made 
possibly more bitter from the fact that their church remained an organic 
unity. Differences between evangelicals and High-churchmen had existed 
for nearly a century. In 1840 the leaders of the former party were Stephen 
H. Tyng, popular pastor in Philadelphia, AJonzo Potter, later Bishop of 
Pennsylvania, Bishop Philander Chase of Ohio, and Dr. William Sparrow, 
head of the Virginia Theological Seminary. Chief defenders of the High 
Church position were Bishops G. W. Doane of New Jersey, Horatio 
Potter of New York, the powerful corporation of Trinity Church, New 
York City, and the faculty of the General Theological Seminary located 

The publication of the Oxford Tracts, especially the seemingly pro- 
Roman 'Tract 90," brought this division into the open, in America no less 
than in England. When in 1843 the Bishop of New York consented to 
trie ordination of Arthur Carey, a recent graduate of the General The- 
ological Seminary who avowed his adherence to the views expressed in 
"Tract 90," Low-churchmen were thoroughly aroused. Feeling reached 
its climax when certain evangelical bishops brought three of their brethren 
to trial Bishops Henry U. Onderdonk of Pennsylvania, for intemperance, 
B. T. Onderdonk of New York, for unchastity, and G. W. Doane of New 
Jersey, for the unethical conduct of financial affairs. In 1847 the Low 
Church party organized the Society for the Promotion of Evangelical 
Knowledge and, in 1860, the American Church Missionary Society both 
aimed at infiltrating the church with their principles. The evangelicals 
reached the pinnacle of their influence in the late 1850 s, by which time 



Stephen H. Tyng, Sr. and one of his sons had built large congregations in 
New York City, and Bishops Manton Eastburn of Massachusetts and 
Charles P. Mcllvaine of Ohio had joined their ranks. 28 

Differences between the two groups lay not so much in their observance 
of liturgy and sacraments or their respect for episcopal powers as in the 
way in which they regarded these matters. As the church's historian put it 
sixty years ago, evangelicals emphasized the individual reception of grace; 
High-churchmen, the institutional administration of grace. "The watch- 
word of the one was experience; that of the other, authority." To the 
former group, then, sacraments and ritual liturgy were simply means to 
inspire the believer to live in vital, spiritual relation to his Lord. To the 
other, they were significant for their own sake, objective channels of 
grace. The Low Church emphasis upon experience led them to approve 
affiliation with other Christians in evangelistic endeavors, as well as to 
introduce prayer meetings, extemporaneous exhortation, and, in some 
cases, seasons of revival into their program of worship. Laymen inevitably 
found a larger place of usefulness under their banner. Conversely, admirers 
of the Oxford Movement feared religious enthusiasm, opposed all measures 
of gospel work other than those which the liturgy allowed, and considered 
their church a divine institution rather than a voluntary association. They 
were, by definition, sectarian and conservative. 

That throughout these years the one Episcopal party "accounted itself 
as having all the piety, and the other all the loyalty and good manners in 
the church" did not, strangely, inhibit the growth of the whole. The 
denomination's membership increased 46 per cent in the decade following 
1855. The evangelicals provided the mass appeal and their sedate opponents 
the pomp and circumstance which together fit the church for an important 
role in urban America. 20 

As for the Lutherans, Philip Schaff explained to a Berlin convocation 
in 1854 that Methodism, which held the same spiritual relation to the 
English church as pietism did to Lutheranism, had greatly influenced 
German immigrants to the United States especially those from pietistic 
Wiirtemburg. Not only had German-speaking Wesleyan sects like the 

M Charles C. Tiffany, A History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in The United 

C !T J f fcfl C ;, mp ScKaff an(3 Others * ^ rite American Church History Series, 
^New York, 1895), pp. 459-61, 467-68, 472-81. 

"^y pp> 461 -69, 489. Tiffany's chapter is far more sympathetic to the evangelicals 
an William W. Manxoss, A History of the American Episcopal Church (New York, 
1935.), pp. 277-85. 



United Brethren in Christ, the Evangelical Association, and the German 
Methodists emerged, but all the German churches in America, he said, 
had adopted the system of revivals and the emphasis upon "subjective, 
experimental religion." 

Schaff complained that the powerful "New Lutheran" party, which 
controlled the schools at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Springfield, Ohio, and 
Springfield, Illinois, had "entirely given up all the points which distinguish 
the Lutheran theology from the Reformed, substituting for the Calvinistic 
doctrine of predestination, however, the still un-Lutheran, Arminian theory 
of free will." Revivalism had increased steadily in favor among them after 
1830, with the mourner's bench being used "not rarely with the wildest 
hyper-Methodistic excess." The Old Lutheran group, inclined to liturgical 
worship, had, he said, recently gained strength from the growing study 
of German theology and a gradual return in at least some of the Eastern 
branches to the more traditional forms of service. But the strife over re- 
vival measures had been so great that Schaff declared that one might "make 
a book on the anxious bench controversy in the German churches of 
America." 30 

The Society of Friends and the Unitarians, though often portrayed in 
terms of the liberalism of Elias Hicks and Theodore Parker, more generally 
revealed a similar attachment to personal and evangelical faith. Under the 
leadership of the Englishman John Joseph Gurney and Elisha Bates of the 
Ohio Yearly Meeting, the Friends experienced a decided revival of faith 
in the atonement as the means of sanctification, in contrast to the Hicksite 
predication of the innate capacity of man for a perfection of attainment. 
For a large majority of Quakers the Cross thus became more important 
than the "Inner Light," precisely because it was the source of grace by 
which the light might shine within. 31 

Similarly, from the day that Ralph Waldo Emerson resigned his pulpit 
in 1832, a widening breach had split the ranks of Unitarianism. Amidst the 
sharp controversy of the 1850's, the note dominant in Unitarian preaching 
seems to have been devotional and spiritual. One sizable group, led by 
Frederic Dan Huntington, Harvard Professor and preacher at the Appleton 
Chapel, consistently assailed liberals of Parker's variety and taught a religion 

80 Schaff, o-p. tit., pp. 168-69, 175-76, 183, 186, 188-89, 193, 204. See later, pp. 55-59. 

81 Elbert Russell, The History of Quakerism (New York, 1942), pp. 331-32 may be 
compared with John Joseph Gurney, Essays on the Evidences, Doctrines, and Practical 
Operations of Christianity (Philadelphia, 1856), pp. 529-30, and Elisha Bates, The 
Doctrines of Friends . . . (Philadelphia, 1868), pp. 119-31. 



of personal communion with God through prayer and faith in the atone- 
ment. 32 

This is not to suggest that the peculiar social impact of Unitarianism 
arose from anything other than its tolerance of skeptical and independent 
intellectuals, but rather to illustrate the fact that with the masses of the 
people liberal Christianity was making little headway. The "Christian 
Connection" in the West, which opposed all creeds but practiced baptism 
by immersion, seems to have claimed more members in 1854 than did the 
Unitarians, with whom the group frequently co-operated. The total number 
in both, however, did not exceed 65,000, and the portion of these whose 
tendencies were radically liberal must have been quite small. 33 

The most important conclusion to be drawn from the foregoing analysis 
is that there was neither a typical Protestant point of view on religious 
and social matters nor even, in most cases, one which was common to 
the great body of believers within any major denomination. Every sermon, 
newspaper article, and essay must be studied in the light of its author's 
relation to the contending groups in his sect. 

Nor can mid-nineteenth-century American clergymen be divided simply 
into the two categories of "orthodox" and "liberal." Four significant strains 
of thought and feeling flowed freely across denominational lines. Tradi- 
tionalism is the term which best describes the mood common to High 
Church Episcopal and Old Lutheran leaders. Orthodox Calvinism, the 
bogeyman of social historians, was a dying dogma. Old School Presbyterians, 
Antimission Baptists, a small party of the most conservative Congregation- 
alists, and two or three minor Presbyterian sects were its sole champions. 
What we will call in this book Revivalistic Calvinism was, paradoxically 
enough, almost Arminian on the matters of election and free will and 
leaned as well toward "new measures" and mterfaith fellowship. This point 
of view characterized New School Presbyterians, most Congregationalists, 
Low Church Episcopalians, Regular Baptists, Disciples of Christ, and those 

"The account in Joseph Henry Allen and Richard Eddy, A History of the Unitarians 
and the Universalisis in The United States (Philip Schaff and others, eds., The American 
Church History Senes, X, New York, 1894), pp. 205-20, is factually sparse, though written 
trom^distant memory of the events. The files of The Monthly Religious Magazine for the 
1850's are revealing, especially the articles as follows: "Editor's Collecteana," XIV (1855), 
vw V?? ^ ufuS EIll ' S> aOur Gross In J ustice to ^e Great Body of Unitarian Believers," 

^2S^ 2 8J* H " Sears ' meodore Parker and His Theol ^' * 

A * r ? ee > .^ Chaff ' f' 2*" P ' 206; Grand Pikre ' <* dt " PP- 46-47; and Marianne Finch, 
An Englishwoman $ Experience in America (London, 1853), pp. 269-70, for general 



of the New Lutherans who were not thoroughgoing Arminians. Evan- 
gelical Arminianism claimed the allegiance of a vast army of Methodists 
of all sorts, the German Wesleyan sects, the Friends, many New Lutherans, 
the Cumberland Presbyterians, and the Freewill Baptists. 

Low Church Episcopalians and New Lutherans were thus in thought 
and feeling closer to New School Presbyterians and Regular Baptists than 
to High-churchmen. All four revealed more openness to John Wesley's 
doctrines than to the old orthodoxy. The line dividing Evangelical Ar- 
minians from Evangelistic Calvinists seems, in retrospect, to have been 
more a matter of custom than of creed. The doctrine of Christian per- 
fection became a leading concern in both camps. 

American religion was organized outwardly into denominations, the 
knowledge of whose structure and inner relationships is fundamental to an 
understanding of the whole. But the easiest fallacy is to treat each one of 
these as a homogeneous unit. The next easiest, if scholarly works on the 
subject are any evidence, is to label everyone who believed in man's sinful- 
ness a "Calvinist." 



The Social Influence 

of the Churches 

The irreligious had prophesied ever since 1785 that 
sectarian conflict would gradually strangle Christianity in the new nation. 
True, the multiplicity of denominations had required the early divorce of 
the national government from religion. The rapid growth of dissenting 
groups eventually compelled the states in turn to abolish whatever vestiges 
of an established church they had retained. But legal status, in religion as 
in other matters, may often indicate an empty tradition rather than a social 
fact; its absence may be equally deceiving. What was the real influence of 
Protestant Christianity on American life on the eve of the Civil War? 

Denominational rivalry had certainly not lessened the zeal to win con- 
verts. 1 Revival enthusiasm and personal consecration had fashioned a rod 
stronger than legal sanctions to herd the lost sheep in. Moreover, the govern- 
ment adopted measures which belied its professed neutrality in religious 
affairs. Stephen Colwell, Philadelphia Presbyterian and reformer, declared 
that statutes requiring observance of the Sabbath, proclamations calling the 
nation to prayer, state laws against blasphemy, court rulings in church 
cases, oathswearing on the Bible and the maintenance of chaplains in 
legislative halls and the armed services all proved that evangelical Protes- 
tantism was indeed 'legally recognized as the popular religion of the 
country." 2 

But, Colwell asserted, the power of Christianity is in any case "moral, 
not physical"; its security in the hearts of the people was "higher than the 
Constitution itself/' for it was "the very atmosphere in which our institu- 

1 See Robert Baird, The Progress and Prospects of Christianity in the United States of 
America (London, 1851), pp. 26-27, 44; Philip Schaff, America . . . (New York, 1855), 
pp. 117, 120-21; and Stephen Colwell, The Position of Christianity in the United States 
. . . (Philadelphia, 1854), pp. 78-81. 

2 Colwell, op. tit., p. 53; c pp. 1-89, passim. See also Baird, Progress and Prospects, 
pp. 27-28, and the same author's State and Prospects of Religion in America . . . (London, 
1855), pp. 116-29. 



tions exist, ... the basis of our morality, and the mould in which our 
civilization has been cast." Philip Schaff likewise held that the nation was 
"still Christian" though it refused "to be governed in this deepest concern 
of the mind and heart by the temporal power." Because American Chris- 
tianity was "the free expression of personal conviction and of national 
character," he believed it had "even greater power over the mind, than 
when enjoined by civil laws." The revolutions of 1848, he noted, had 
shown the European system to rest principally on "grand illusions." 8 

What had happened was that the American Christians had created a new 
pattern of church-state relations, unknown since the first century. It was 
called the 'Voluntary system," to distinguish it from the state-church tradi- 
tion in Europe. Thoughtful visitors from the Old World expressed amaze- 
ment at its success. Alexis de Tocqueville pointed out in 1833 that the 
efforts American clergymen made to avoid political strife actually increased 
their hold upon society. Religion, he said, regulated the community through 
its power over manners and morals. It was, therefore, "the foremost of the 
political institutions of the country." Tocqueville noted that citizens of all 
classes and shades of political opinion held Christianity to be indispensable 
to the maintenance of republican government. Wherever the church at- 
tempts to share the temporal power of the state, he concluded, it cannot 
avoid being "the object of a portion of that animosity which the latter 
excites." 4 

Gilbert Haven, a Boston abolitionist who became a Methodist bishop 
after the war, explained the social responsibilities of clergymen under the 
American system in a fast-day sermon for 1863 called, "The State a Chris- 
tian Brotherhood, the Mission of America." Haven believed that the na- 
tion's destiny was to prove that "the utmost liberty of worship and the 
utmost liberty of no worship" can "co-exist with a ruling Christianity," 
and that "the utmost liberty and equality of all men can co-exist with a 
stable and prosperous government." Democracy would fail, he said, if "this 
attempt to trust the human race with the offers of salvation, without 

* ColweH, op. cit. f p. 68; Schaff, op. eft., pp. xiii, 91. CF. William Henry MilBurn, The 
Rifle, Axe, and Saddle-Bags, and Other Lectures CNew York, 1857), pp. 56-57, 77-78. 

* Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America Ctr. Henry Reeve; New York, 1900), 
I, 310, 315-17; see generally the whole passage, 313-20. Cf. Winthrop S. Hudson, The 
Great Tradition of the American Churches (New York, 1953), pp. 63-79, 98-99, and 



endeavouring, in the least degree, to compel their acquiescence" did not 
succeed in bringing about a Christian society. 5 

Haven warned, however, that grave dangers arose from the tendency 
to discourage ministers from speaking out on political and social issues. 

The Gospel ... is not confined to a repentance and faith that have no con- 
nection with social or civil dudes. The Evangel of Christ is an all-embracing 
theme. It is the vital force in earth and in heaven. . . . The Cross is the centre 
of the spiritual, and therefore of the material universe, 

the divine touchstone before which "literature, science, politics, business, 
the status of society, all charities, all reforms" must be brought to test. It 
is thus alone, he cried, that "the kingdom of Christ can be universally 
established." 6 

Regardless of the validity of these theoretical explanations, there is 
abundant factual witness to the immense power of the clergy. Higher edu- 
cation, developed from the first under the supervision of Presbyterian and 
Congregationalist ministers, centered increasingly around religion, now that 
the popular sects undertook a larger role. By 1860 Northern Methodists 
operated 26 colleges and 116 institutes and academies. Regular Baptists, 
North and South, maintained 33 colleges and 161 secondary schools. 7 
Ministers edited scores of denominational newspapers and magazines whose 
total circulation had grown to phenomenal proportions by 1860. Strongly 
religious journals like Harper's Monthly, Harpers Weekly, and The Ladies 
Repository, to mention only three under the influence of Methodism, filled 
a place held later by more secular publications. 8 

Clergymen inspired the dominant social movement of the period, the 
crusade for humanitarian reform, at every stage. They were the principal 
arbiters of manners and morals and the most venerated citizens of every 
community. A young Methodist circuit rider, returning in 1845 from the 

1 Gilbert Haven, National Sermons. Sermons, Speeches and Letters on Slavery and Its 
War . , (Boston, 1869), pp. 342-44. 

' Ibid,, pp. 337-38. See later, pp. 220-22, 235. 

^^'A rh f, A ^ er ^ ln Chrht ^ n Eecor * * - CNew York, 1860), pp. 273-75, 278, 295, 
359. C. Donald G. Tewksbury, The Founding of American Colleges and Universities 
Before the CmZ War; vnth Particular Reference to the Religious Influences Bearing Upon 
the College Movement (Teacher's College, Columbia University, Contributions to Educa- 

2?o* fllJ? Vl??'o W - f 6 " 91 ' 108 - U > m and *"**"*'> excellent tables a PP** OB pp. 

?^ 5 if ^ 5f -V/; 6 ' ? e ak> Lewis G ' Vander Velde > <The Diaf y of George Duffield?" 
The Mississiwn Valley Historical Review, XXIV (1937-38), pp. 23, 25. 

pp, loM 383^91 M0ttj A MiSt0ry f American Ma ^ az ^ nes > 1850-1865 (Cambridge, 1938), 



West in broken health, actually won election as chaplain to the national 
legislature through the efforts of three congressmen whose respect he had 
won by publicly castigating their drunkenness and gambling aboard an 
Ohio River steamboat. According to Robert Baird, New Orleans was the 
only American city which in 1851 permitted omnibuses to operate on 
Sunday. New York got along with one horse-drawn street railway in service. 
A reviewer of a volume of Henry Ward Beecher's sermons wrote in The 
Atlantic Monthly: "No class has such opportunities for influence, such 
means of power" as the American preachers. Even now, he declared, the 
press ranks second to the pulpit. "Sunday morning all the land is still 
Broadway is a quiet stream, looking sober, even dull. Even in this great 
Babel of Commerce one day in seven is given up to the minister." 9 

A sampling of the opinions of Europeans who traveled in the United 
States between 1850 and 1865 will readily verify this judgment Dissenters 
might naturally rejoice to find the voluntary system of support working 
well, but proponents of an established church also admitted its success, as 
did several who professed disinterest in religion. 10 Evangelicals were 
especially heartened to discover that the elimination of legal privilege 
seemed to lessen sectarian rivalry. 11 

The latter group agreed unanimously that the ideals of evangelical 
Protestantism seemed to dominate the national culture. They pointed to 
the rigorous observance of the Sabbath, even in cities filled with German 
immigrants like Milwaukee and Chicago and the evident enthusiasm of 
large segments of the population for temperance reform, as proof that a 
national religion was more effective than merely a state church. They 
thought the Bible House, built in New York City in 1853 at a cost of 
$280,000, a fitting monument to the book which in politics as in religion 
served as final authority. 12 Several argued that the previous generation of 

* Baird, Progress and Prospects, p. 28; The Atlantic Monthly, I (1858), pp. 862-63; 
William Henry Milburn, Ten Years of Preacher-Life: Chapters from an Autobiography 
(New York, 1859), pp. 11344. 

10 See dissenters' statements in A. . de Gasparin, The Uprising of a Great People . . . 
(tr. Mary L. Booth; New Yorlc, 1861), pp. 63-65; Georges Fisch, Nine Months in the 
United States . . . (London, 1863), p. 23; and anon., America As I Found It (London, 
1852), p. 100. Cf. Schaff, op. cit., pp. 90-95; J. H. Grand Pierre, A Parisian Pastor's Glance 
at America (Boston, 1854), pp. 57, 66; T. C. Grattan, Civilized America (London, 1859), 
II, pp. 338-40; Henry A. Murray, Lands of the Slave and the Free: or, Cuba, The United 
States, and Canada (London, 1857), p. 423; and William Hancock, An Emigrant's Five 
Years in the Free States of America (London, 1860), pp. 109-10. 

11 See earlier, p. 19. 

"Isabella (Bird) Bishop, The Aspects of Religion in the United States . . . (London, 



visitors, prejudiced in favor of state churches and representing principally, 
as one put it, "the beau monde of London and Parisian society/' had 
amused their readers with caricatures of revivals and strange sects which 
wholly misinterpreted the nature and influence of American religion. 13 

Europeans were particularly astonished at the vast sums given for church 
buildings, religious benevolence and charity. It seemed incredible that 
clerical salaries in New York and Boston ranged between $4,000 and $5,000 
a year, or that the Rev. William Adams expected to raise $150,000 from 
his New York City congregation for a new church building within a few 
weeks. 14 They frequently attributed this to the fact that American min- 
isters, appointed as they were for their zeal and abilities and usually re- 
sponsible only to the people, preached better sermons than those in Europe 
and exercised much greater personal power over their congregations. 
Nothing was so rare in America, Georges Fisch observed, as "a worldly or 
immoral clergyman," for under the voluntary system the people would not 
allow it. Here, he believed, was the most distinguished body of pastors 
in the world, "not only at the head of their churches, but at the head of 
the nation as well." An English woman commented that "an aristocracy 
of moral worth and consistent piety" existed in the country, for a min- 
ister's influence as chairman of a meeting carried more weight than that 
of a "real live lord" in Britain, 15 

Thus by 1860 the clergy had recovered whatever influence over public 
affairs they had lost in the generations of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew 

1859), pp. 26, 66, 126, 128, 138, 140-42, 165; James Dixon, Personal Narrative of a Tour 
Through a Part of the United States . . . (New York, 1849), p. 178; anon., America As 1 
Found It p. 110; Grand Pierre, op. dt., pp. 59, 66, 75-76, 86; Gasparin, op. eft., pp. 56- 
71, 84-85. 

See also the comments on temperance, some of them amusing complaints of trie 
alcoholic aridity of the new nation: Hancock, op. tit., p. 108; David W. Mitchell, Ten 
Years in the United States (London, 1862), pp. 86-87; Charles Mackay, Life and Liberty 
in America; or Sketches of a Tour in the United States and Canada in 1857-58 (London, 
?Vr ' v ' 21?; and J oliann Geor 8 KoW Travels in Canada, and Through the States 
of New York and Pennsylvania (tr. Mrs. Percy Sinnett; London, 1861), pp. 223-24 

Dixon, a?, cit., pp. 167-68; Bishop, cp. tit., pp. 5-23, passim; Fisch, op. eft., p. 94. 
Max Berger, The British Traveler in America, 1836-1860 CNew York, 1943), pp. 129- 
36, relies principally on secular-minded visitors in describing foreign views of American 

1 o?? nd /^ 1 2 5 ' ** cit '> PP- 58 " 6L Cf * Gasparin, op. ctt., pp. 68-71; Bishop, op. cit. f 
pp. 28-29; Schaff, pp. eft, pp. x-xi, 94. Joseph Belcher, op. dt., pp. 982-86, noted, con- 
versely, the great disparity between the salaries of rural and city pastors; he estimated the 
national average to be little better than $400 annually. 

"Marianne Finch, An Englishwoman's Experience in America (London, 1853), p. 75. 

rSVnj^ ^**' P " 43; anoni ' Amedca As l F"* h P- HO; Grand Pierre, op. dt., pp. 
69-70; and Bishop, op. tit., pp. 28-29, 140-63. 



Jaclcson, and enjoyed it without let or hindrance from legal sanctions. 
Significantly enough, Abraham Lincoln was the last of the long line of 
American presidents who were reluctant to identify themselves publicly 
with a church organization. In fact, the religious conviction which per- 
meated Lincoln's statements and addresses set the tone for a new generation 
of public figures, ready at times all too ready to affirm their Christian 
faith. The form of godliness, however odious when displayed by men like 
Daniel Drew or Jim Fiske, became a prerequisite for eminence. By the 
end of the Civil War, as secular a journal as The Nation was found 
thoughtfully urging increased salaries for rural ministers and support for 
the expanding program of the Y.M.C.A., lest "the religious culture of this 
generation" should "leave very few traces on the next." 16 

Such general approbation was in part a reward for the social responsi- 
bility which the churches had assumed for the evangelization of the West 
and the religious and moral instruction of the nation's unchurched youth. 
By 1850 nine separate societies were employing 2,675 home missionaries 
to establish churches and Sunday schools in "destitute" communities at a 
total annual expenditure of $500,000. Most of these organizations were 
denominational offshoots of the nonsectarian American Home Missionary 
Society, which supported 40 per cent of the workers. A vast river of 
Bibles, books, magazines and pamphlets flowed from the presses of the 
American Bible and Tract societies and scores of denominational concerns 
to water the gospel seed. 17 Recent immigrants, come in great poverty from 
what many Americans regarded as "lands of darkness," received much 
attention. By 1860, for example, 229 of the 289 domestic missionaries of 
the Methodist Episcopal Church worked among the German population, 
and thirty others among Scandinavians. O. G. Hedstrom inspired and often 
guided the latter group, from the contacts he made with Swedish new- 
comers aboard the "Bethel Ship," 'The John Wesley," in New York 
Harbor. 18 

16 The Nation, March 15, 1866, pp. 326-27. Cf. Hudson, op. cit., pp. 103-7; Carl Russell 
Fish, The Rise of the Common Man, 1830-50 (Arthur M. Schlesinger and Dixon Ryan 
Fox, eds., A History of American Life, VI, New York, 1927), p. 179. 

1T See statistics for 1850 in Baird, Progress and Prospects, pp. 24-25. Although Tewks- 
hury, op. cit., pp. 72, 76-78, 80-81, 83-85 stresses the sectarian nature of the college move- 
ment in the West, much of the evidence he cites illustrates that its impetus was a general 
concern for the maintenance of a religious culture. 

**Zion's Herald, Dec. 1, 1852; anon., American Christian Record, pp. 290, 306; J. M. 
Reid, Missions and Missionary Society of The Methodist Episcopal Church (New York, 
1879), I, p. 434. Cf. Paul F. Douglass, The Story of German Methodism. Biography of an 
Immigrant Soul (New York, 1939), pp. 1-90. 



Most of the details of this home missionary crusade are well known, of 
course. The significant point here is that its leaders considered themselves as 
much civilizing and Americanizing agents as soul winners. "If you converse 
with these missionaries of Christian civilization," remarked Alexis de 
Tocqueville in 1832, "y u w ^ ^ e surprised to find . . . that you meet with 
a politician where you expected to find a priest." 19 

The same is even more true of the Sunday-school movement. Prominent 
laymen representing several communions had organized the American 
Sunday School Union in 1830 for the purpose of supplying both rural 
and urban children with the religious education forbidden in the public 
schools. Though by 1850 a parallel Methodist organization led the way by 
far in the number of schools and scholars, the co-operative group still 
received the most financial assistance. It had originally helped organize 
many of the units which later passed into denominational hands. 20 The 
Union began about that year also to employ ministerial students as 
temporary missionaries during their summer vacations. In 1853, 214 men 
from twenty-six colleges organized 695 schools and induced over four 
thousand persons to serve as teachers. They were very active in city slums, 
where they served as unofficial truant officers, rounding up many children 
for the public schools. 21 

A long debate raged on the question whether Sunday schools were an 
adequate substitute for a religiously oriented state-educational system, as 
was possible in Europe. Old School Presbyterians, like the Lutherans and 
Catholics, were planning parochial schools in the 1840's. Ministers of some 
other communions seem to have held back only because of the expenditure 
required. 22 Stephen Colwell published an important book in 1854 which 
called the American system a failure. He recommended that all Protestants 

19 Op. X I, 311-12. OF. Edward Norris Kirk, The Church Essential to the Republic. 
A Sermon in Behalf of the American Home Missionary Society . . . (New York, 1848), 
passim; Milburn, op. dt.; the same author's Pioneers, Preachers, and People of the Missis- 
sippi Valley (New York, 1860); James L. Batchelder, The United States, The West, and 
the State of Ohio, as Missionary Pields (Cincinnati,. 1848), pp. 1-7. See also Tewksbury, 
op, cit., pp. 22-23, 72-75; for interesting quotations. 

* See Baird, Progress and Prospects, pp. 24-25; Belcher, op. dt., pp. 594, 603. 

fl The Watch-man and Reflector, Jan. 19, 1854; Mary M. Boardman (Mrs. Wm. E.), 
Life and Labours of the Rev. W. E. Board-man (New York, 1887), pp. 96-101. See later 
p. 167. 

" Anson Phelps Stokes, Church and State in The United States . . . (New York, 
1950), n, pp. 676 and 645-79, passim; Hugh Seymour Tremenheere, Notes on Pullic 
Subjects Made During a Tour in The United States and Canada. (London, 1852), pp. 



agree immediately on a common creed, so as to make possible a committedly 
Christian program of state education. The chief difficulty was not so much 
the reluctance of the clergy to act in political matters, Colwell said, as their 
sectarian strife. 23 

The American Sunday School Union had tried twenty years earlier to 
persuade Horace Mann to adopt its "select library*' for religious instruction 
in Massachusetts. When Mann countered with the proposition that the 
Bible alone be employed, in a manner consistent with Unitarian prejudices, 
he displayed equal rejection of the idea of an entirely secular system. Mean- 
while, even Methodist preachers served as superintendents of public 
schools, one of them as a New Hampshire state commissioner. 24 

Unsolicited advice from European critics helped confuse Protestant 
thinking on the subject, as did the publicity given Roman Catholic views 
when Archbishop John Hughes conducted an unsuccessful campaign to 
secure state funds for parochial institutions in New York. 25 The figures 
which one English investigator gathered in 1851 to discredit the Sunday- 
school movement actually gave much evidence of its success. Hugh Seymour 
Tremenheere found that in New York the average weekly attendance of 
30,000 equalled three-fourths of that in "public, ward and corporate 
schools." Elsewhere, his polls revealed that 67 per cent of the public-school 
children in Cleveland, 40 per cent in Pittsburgh, 80 per cent in Philadel- 
phia and 80 per cent in Boston attended church schools on the Sabbath. 
The low figures for Pittsburgh, however, were borne out in other in- 
dustrial or mining communities, like Jamestown, Rhode Island, and Potts- 
ville, Pennsylvania. In many places, moreover, the public-school attendance 
was far below the potential which the census of the population indicated. 28 

Tremenheere noted approvingly that the Christian-education movement 
was lessening sectarian tensions, particularly in areas where only one 
school could be supported. The Sunday School Union had contributed 
effectively, so the secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education 

ss Colwell, of. dt., pp. 80, 84-85, 98, 118 and 89-130, passim. 

24 Stokes, op. cit., II, pp. 55-56; Zion's Herald, Jan. 7, 1852; George Prentice, Tke Life 
of Gilbert Haven . . . (New York, 1883), p. 110; Abel Stevens, Life and Times of Natlian 
Bangs (New York, 1863), p. 361. 

85 W. O. Bourne, History of the Public School Society of the City of New York (New 
York, 1873), Chs. X-XV; Tremenheere, op. cit., pp. 26-27, 48-49; anon., America As 1 
Pound It, pp. 49-57. But contrast favorable views in Fisch, op. cit., pp. 73-74, 80-82, and 
Bishop, op. cit., pp. 172-75. 

" e Tremenheere, op. cit., pp. 14, 16, 19, 24-27. 



told him, to the growing conviction that peculiarities of doctrine were 
subordinate to the great truths which the churches held in common. A 
writer in The Sunday School Journal for 1854 declared that, despite the 
opposition of ecclesiastical leaders, if all the Christians could be heard, a 
great majority would speak for relaxing denominational bonds and strength- 
ening "those which unite them as followers of Christ, The sentiment of the 
church, at this moment, is for union." 27 

The mutual understanding which thus blossomed from the sowing of 
home-mission and Sunday-school workers further strengthened the reviving 
social prestige of religion. It bore many fruits, none more significant than 
the ill-fated efforts to form a world Evangelical Alliance. Robert Baird, 
temperance agitator and European representative for several organizations 
seeking to convert Roman Catholics, seems to have joined with other 
American clergymen in suggesting such an ecumenical organization to the 
British and Continental churches. A distinguished American delegation, 
including Edward Norris Kirk, Samuel S. Schmucker, Stephen Olin, Abel 
Stevens, Emerson Andrews, and Lyman Beecher, attended the first con- 
ference at London in 1846. The British, however, seized the initiative and 
wrecked hopes for active American participation by insisting upon a 
clause barring slaveholders from membership. 28 

The United States representatives, returned home to organize a national 
alliance of the same name, as did those from the Continent. Baird founded 
and edited for three years a monthly organ, The Christian Union and Re- 
ligious Memorial, and attended numerous meetings of the English and 
Continental sections. But his hopes of securing removal of the antislavery 
clause and, thereby, a revival of ecumenicity, were never fulfilled. Mean- 
while, opposition from both the left and right enfeebled the American 
alliance, as did bickering over slavery and the ill feeling created between 
Presbyterians and Congregationalists at the disruption of their co-operative 
association, the Plan of Union, in 1852. 29 George B. Cheever, famous 
pastor of New York's Church of the Pilgrims, and many others who could 

* T Ibid., pp. 40-41; The Sunday School Journal, March I, 1854, quoted in Colwell, op. 
cit. } pp. 82-83. Cf. anon., America As I Found It, pp. 114-19. 

88 Henry Martyn Baird, Life of the Rev. Robert Baird, D.D. (New York, 1866), pp. 

29 Ibid* The Independent, March 29, 1855, bitterly attacked Isaac V. Brown, Vindication 
of the Abrogation of the Plan of Union lay the Presbyterian Church in The United States 
of America (Philadelphia, 1855), and Old School Preshyterianism in general. Cf. E. H. 
Gfflett, History of the Presbyterian Church . . . (Philadelphia, 1864), H, 558-63. 



not be accused of proslavery sympathies supported the project, however, 
both as a counterweight to Catholicism and a means to the fulfillment of 
the scriptural promise of the world's conversion through Christian union 
in evangelism. 30 Others in the liberal wing of Congregationalists in New 
York City opposed it, as did Horace Bushnell, on the grounds that its 
creed was so narrow as to make it a "new eclectic sect" from which many 
sincere Christians were excluded. 31 

Typical of the residual bigotry was Alexander Blaikie's volume, The 
Philosophy of Sectarianism, published in 1854. Its arguments proved, at 
least to the author's satisfaction, that the burst of brotherly activity in 
charity, evangelism, and religious education was spurious, since it rested on 
other than Calvinistic doctrine and called for "unscripturaT organizations. 
Clearly the world's conversion awaited the adoption by the churches of 
the principles of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. 32 

The next year the New School New York Evangelist and The Inde- 
pendent, organ of liberal Congregationalists, heatedly debated the ques- 
tion whether what the former called "a legitimate denominationalism" was 
equivalent to sectarianism. The editors of the latter paper insisted that the 
whole spirit of denominational loyalty must be overcome "before a true 
Christian unity can be manifested to the world; before the millennial glory 
can be ushered in." It is doubtful, however, that their references a month 
later to the "minor ingenuities of perversion" and the "sub-acid smartness" 
of The Evangelist hastened the dawning day. 33 

Succeeding chapters will endeavor to show how revivalism helped to 
melt these ancient prejudices as well as to popularize socially constructive 
versions of perfectionist and millenarian doctrines. In fact, the awakening 
of 1858-59 set the stage for a tremendous advance in interdenominational 
social and religious work, quickening the pace by which the churches 
Christianized the land. Old benevolent societies took on new functions, 
new ones like the Y.M.C.A. and the Christian Labor Union appeared, 

"The Independent, May 17, 1949; Zion's Herald, Feb. 18, 1852. 

"The Independent, Jan. 11 and 25, 1849. The issue of May 17, 1849, nonetheless 
carried a long and favorable report of its annual meeting. 

"Alexander Blaikie, The Philosophy of Sectarianism . . . (Boston, 1855), pp. 4-6, 

**The Independent, July 19 and August 16, 1855. See also the same, May 3 and 10, 
1855, for the report of the second annual meeting of the Congregational Union; the issue 
of July 5, 1855, p. 212; and the utterly silly controversy over a review of Henry Ward 
Beecher's Plymouth Collection of Hymns in those for November 22 and December 13, 
1855. Cf. Colwell, New Themes for the Protestant Clergy . . . (Philadelphia, 1851), 
p. 176. 



and for a brief period the churches themselves joined hands and hearts to 
usher in the kingdom of Christ. 

The opinions of both European and American observers, therefore, 
seem verified in solid fact: the churches were making a far greater impact 
upon American society than their numbers or separation from the state 
would imply. Nor was sectarianism as strong as is commonly supposed. 
The interdenominational Bible, tract, missionary, and temperance associa- 
tions did not seem to contemporaries the projects of men who had divorced 
themselves from active church life. They were rather the symbols of a 
growing spirit of union which the greatest ecclesiastical leaders heartily 
endorsed. From the very beginning, moreover, and increasingly as years 
passed, these organizations sought to reform earthly institutions as well as 
to prepare the souls of men for heaven. Most churchmen were keenly 
aware of their role in shaping America's destiny even Methodists like 
Gilbert Haven. Otherworldly convictions imparted a sacred potency to 
their crusade to sanctify the national culture and convert the world 
to Christian principles. 



The Resurgence of Revivalism 

The cutting edge of American Christianity after 1850 was 
the revival, adopted and promoted in one form or another by major seg- 
ments of all denominations. One writer declared on the eve of the Civil 
War that the most characteristic feature of the religious history of the 
century was "the increasing recognition, cultivation, and expectation of 
revivals.'* The previous twenty-five years especially had witnessed "such a 
succession and general distribution" of them as to encourage his hopes 
for the day of their permanent and continuous enjoyment. 1 No less a figure 
than Robert Baird stoutly defended them before European audiences and 
adorned the magazine he edited for the American branch of the Evangelical 
Alliance with reports of their progress. Two of his articles in 1849 urged 
that a state of continuous awakening was the normal condition of the 
church and sectarian strife the greatest hindrance to attainment of this 
goal. 2 

Though historians have in the past two decades become increasingly 
aware of the contributions of revivalism to nineteenth-century culture, in- 
terest has been focused principally upon the events which transpired be- 
fore 1842 and particularly upon the careers of individuals like Charles G. 
Finney and Lyman Beecher. Relatively little attention has been paid to 
the later extension of their kind of crusade in the churches, except to un- 
usual outbursts like that of 1858, What, then, can be found in the inner 
life of the larger denominations which will indicate the wider setting in 
which such extraordinary awakenings took place? 

The answer to this question is particularly important if it be true that 
evangelists and evangelistic pastors led the way in liberalizing Calvinistic 

1 William C. Conant, Narratives of Remarkable Conversions and Revival Incidents 
...(New York, 1858), p. 359. 

'Robert Baird, Religion in America . . . (New Yorlc, 1844), pp. 203-1 5 ff.; The Chris- 
tian Union and Religious Memorial, II (1849), pp. 77-78, 146. See revival reports in the 
same, I (1848), pp. 59, 121-23; and II (1849), pp. 252-54. 



theology and inspiring humanitarian effort. During the revival of 1858, 
for example, James Freeman Clarke wrote in the Unitarian Monthly Re- 
ligious Magazine that the churches were rising "out of dogmas into the 
life o the Spirit/' where new manifestations of "liberality of opinion and 
practical goodness" would add strength to their common bonds. In such 
epochs, he declared, "the essential features of Calvinism disappear; for 
the doctrine of total inability must be put aside, if not openly rejected. . . . 
The necessary subjects are those connected with sin and salvation, and 
must be treated, not in a speculative, but in a practical manner." 3 

The fact that since 1890 mass evangelism has often been associated with 
theologically obscurantist and socially negative religion makes such a state- 
ment seem incredible. Modern students find it difficult to understand the 
constructive contributions of a tradition chiefly remembered for the bar- 
barities evidenced at frontier camp meetings. If, however, by revivalism we 
mean the use of special efforts to secure conversions amidst excited group 
emotions, its enlightened and disciplined flowering among urban Chris- 
tians at mid-century is far more significant than anything which happened 
before. 4 

No argument is required to establish the popularity of religious awaken- 
ings among Methodists before the Civil War. Long promotion of camp 
meetings had stamped Wesleyanism with a fervor which city churches 
expressed in yearly seasons of special religious interest called "protracted 
meetings." Here sinners were bidden each night to the "anxious seat," or 
mourner's bench, devised about 1808 in a crowded New York City chapel 
to enable saints to deal with seekers more conveniently. 5 The fact that only 
four noteworthy full-time evangelists appeared in the church before 1857 
John Newland Maffitt, James Caughey, and Dr. and Mrs. Walter 
Palmer, who were laymen only emphasizes the point that every bishop, 
college president, presiding elder, and circuit rider was expected to be a 
constant winner of souls. Revivals of "perfect love" were the catalyst which 

rrVT" * reeman Ckclce ' <The Revival," The Monthly Religious Magazine, XIX 
(,1858), p. 351. 

'Richard C. Wolf, "The Middle Period, 1800-1870. The Matrix of Modern American 
Christianity, Religion in Life, a Christian Quarterly of Opinion and Discussion, XXII 
C 19 52-5 3), pp. 72-84, suggests this idea, as do several other recent writers: Robert T. 
Handy, "The Protestant Quest fora Christian America, 1830-1930," Church History, XXI 
Q953-54) pp 11-13; Charles Howard Hopkins, History of the Y.M.C.A in North 
America (New York, 1951), pp. 6-8, 16-39, passim; and Charles C. Cole, Jr., The Social 
Ideas of the Northern Evangelists, 1826-1860 (New York, 1954), pp. 71-95. 

8 Frank ^nvi 116 Beardsley, A History of American Revivals (2nd ed., New York, 



enabled an authoritarian church government to control effectively the fol- 
lowers of an intensely democratic faith. 6 They also helped to congeal the 
intense concern for social reform which sprang up among Northern Meth- 
odists around 1840. Every abolitionist periodical published in the de- 
nomination unceasingly promoted them. 7 

The story of Baptist revivalism is more involved. The spread of the 
Antimission schism after 1820, and of its prejudices within Western as- 
sociations not formally separated from Regular Baptist fellowship, demon- 
strated the force of ultra-Calvinistic rejection of special measures for the 
conversion of the lost. Ohio, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee were greatly 
affected, Tennessee associations almost unanimously spurning evangelizing 
efforts in the two decades after 1830. 8 

Though the opposite tendency prevailed in the East, progress was slow 
before 1850. One deterrent was the unwillingness to countenance measures 
championed for so long in rural New England by the Freewill Baptists, 
whose devotion to Arminianism and evangelism was displayed anew in the 
protracted meetings which gave birth to their first organizations in New 
York and Boston in 1849 and 1850. 9 Another was the controversy over 
Elder Jacob Knapp, first professional evangelist in the denomination. 

Knapp's ministry in the 1830*5 was principally to rural and small-town 
communities in New York, where he became known as a chief supporter 
of Madison University at Hamilton. His first urban successes, in union 
campaigns sponsored by the Baptist churches in Rochester, Baltimore, and 
Boston, were cut short in 1842 when antirevival clergymen charged that 
he wore old clothes in the pulpit in order to secure a more sympathetic 
response in the offerings. His supporters hotly contested the accusation, 
and he was officially cleared. But the institution at Hamilton suffered 

8 James Caughey, Glimpses of Life in Soul-Saving . . . (New York, 1868), pp. i-viiij 
George Hughes, The Beloved Physician, Walter C. Palmer, M.D., and His Sun-Lit 
Journey to the Celestial City (New York, 1884), pp. 164-68. On the last point, see 
Richard Wheatley, The Life and Letters of Mrs. Phoebe Palmer (New York, 1876), pp. 
311-12. See Chap. VIII. 

7 See "Revivals Why Are They Not Permanent," Zion's Herald, Nov. 17, 1852, and 
subsequent editorials in the issues of Dec. 1 and 15. On the abolitionists o western New 
York, see later pp. 129-33, 205-7, 212-13. 

"Albert Henry Newman, A History of the Baptist Churches in The United States 
(Philip Schaff and others, eds., The American Church History Series, II, New York, 
1894), pp. 437-41. 

William Hurlin, "The Free Will Baptists, Their History and Doctrines," The Chris- 
tian Review, XXVII (1862), pp. 565-69, 571-72; Helen Dunn Gates, A Consecrated Life. 
A Sketch of the Life and Labors of Rev. Ransom Dunn, D.D., 18I8-I90G (Boston, 1901), 
pp. 89, 92, 136. 



secessions which eventually provided nuclei for Lewisburg University (now 
Bucknell) and the University of Rochester. Knapp spent the next fifteen 
years in small churches, some of them farther West. 10 

Jabez S. Swan and Emerson Andrews, two other revivalists active during 
the period, seem also to have labored principally in small towns in New 
England and the Middle Atlantic states. This may be due to the fact that 
most Baptist congregations were located in such communities. Although 
their success was occasionally phenomenal, the extent of revival activity in 
the denomination cannot be measured by the careers of such professionals, 
all of whom suffered from the prejudices against Jacob Knapp. 11 

For in time, promoters of colleges, missionary projects, and Bible, Sunday- 
school, and temperance societies discovered, in the words of R. Jeffry a 
pastor prominent in Philadelphia during the Civil War that it was 
"never so easy to induce a church to make large contributions for a benev- 
olent object ... as when it is in the full tide of a religious revival." 
Baptists generally regarded such enterprises as "unwarrantable innovations 
on the methods of grace," Jeffry said, until "new measures" won general 
acceptance. And the strongest and latest opposition came from rural and 
frontier areas. 12 In the East college presidents like Francis Wayland of 
Brown University and Martin Brewer Anderson of the University of 
Rochester set out to inspire and train a new generation of evangelistic 
preachers. 13 

The editors of Boston's Watchman and Reflector believed in 1854 that 
with "living Christians in our evangelical churches'* there was no longer 
any question as to "the vast utility, and . . . indispensableness of revivals 
of religion." Evidence for the statement might well have come from the 
bulging revival column of this Baptist newspaper. 14 After New Year's 

10 Jacoh Knapp, Autobiography of Elder Jacob Knapp (New York, 1868), pp. xv, xix- 
xxvi, contains a dispassionate summary by R. Jeffry. Cf. The National Cyclopaedia of 
American Biography . . . (New York, 1917), XII, pp. 243-44. 

"P. G Headier, Evangelists in the Church. Philip, A. D. 35, to Moody and Sankey, 
A. D. 1875 (Boston, 1875), pp. 252-58, summarizes Swan's long career, stretching from 
1823-70; Emerson Andrews, Living Life; or, Autobiography of Rev. Emerson Andrews, 
Evangelist CBoston, 1875), pp. 120-82, passim, and especially pp. 158, 164. 

A roE napP ' OJ> ' dtm ' PP ' **** The Watchman an * Reflector, March 12, 1857 and March 
4, 1858. 

la James O. Murray, Francis Wayland (Boston, 1891), pp. 124-34, 246-49: Charles G 
Finney, Memoirs . . (New York, 1876), pp. 438-40, sketch of Anderson in National 
Cyclopaedia of Biography, XII, 243-44. Theodore Collier's summary of Wayland's career in 
The^ Dictionary of American Biography ignores his soul-winning interests. 

u "How Shall We Promote Revivals," The Watchman and Reflector, March 2, 1854* 
cf. revival reports in the issues for Jan. 12 and 19, Feb. 9 and 16 and March 2, 9, and 



Day, 1857, its entire editorial policy focused on a campaign to promote 
awakenings "throughout New England." The paper gave extensive cover- 
age to Elder Knapp's long union meetings in Baltimore and Cincinnati. 
His return to popular favor helped to erase doubts about his methods in 
the Northeast. The Watchman's news columns from January to April 
reported hundreds of special efforts to precipitate revivals including 
notable ones in Charlestown, Massachusetts, Providence, Rhode Island, 
Brooklyn, and a half-dozen New York City churches. Weeks of nightly 
meetings at Pittsfield, Massachusetts, catapulted that Baptist congregation 
up among the largest in the state. Fifty Methodists, a cheering omen, were 
among Emerson Andrews' converts at North Adams. Scores of New 
England towns were deeply stirred. On April 2 the editors announced that 
"the year 1857 promises, beyond any for the last ten, at least, to be one of 
increase to Zion. . . . We believe that the people of God may now be- 
lievingly address themselves to the work of promoting revivals every- 
where." 15 

Primitive Piety Revived, a much-discussed volume which Henry Clay 
Fish published in 1857, became a keynote of Baptist revival propaganda. 
Fish was a Union Theological Seminary graduate who had just completed 
the first seven years of a highly successful quarter century as pastor in 
Newark, New Jersey. George B. Ide, pastor at West Medway, Massachu- 
setts, and formerly at the First Baptist Church, Philadelphia, and Heman 
Humphrey, Congregational evangelist and former president of Amherst 
College, chose Fish's manuscript from those submitted in a prize competi- 
tion. Its ringing plea for a return to the soul-winning enthusiasm of the 
early Christians helped pave the way for the awakening of 1858 and won 
its author an honorary doctorate from the University of Rochester. 'What 
can save our large cities but a powerful revival of religion," he cried. 'What 
one thing does this whole country so loudly call for, as the descent of the 
Holy Ghost upon the churches?" lfl 

16. The Baptist Christian Review, like most theological quarterlies, was more conservative; 
but see "Christian Experience and Its Relation to Ministerial Success," XXI (1856), pp. 
584-86, and G. W. Hervey, "Congregational Music," XXIII (1858), pp. 249-51. 

15 The Watchman and Reflector, Apr. 2, 1857. See also editorials in the issues of Jan. 
15 and 29, 1857; the revival columns from January to April, especially those for March 19 
and 26; and the report of the further awakening at Pittsfield, March 4, 1858. Cf. Andrews, 
op. cit., p. 220. 

18 Henry Clay Fish, Primitive Piety "Revived, or the Aggressive Power of the Christian 
Church. A Premium Essay (Boston, 1857), pp. iii, 242; see also pp. 231 ff. A sketch of 
Fish's life appears in National Cyclopaedia of Biography, III, p. 523. Cf. George B. Ide, The 
Ministry Demanded by the Present Crisis (Philadelphia, 1845), p. 88 and passim. 



That the Congregational publishing house in Boston should print and 
widely advertise Fish's book is evidence that by the 1850s measures to 
promote awakenings were coming to characterize that denomination as 
well. 17 Educational leaders were here even more obviously responsible. That 
generation of clergymen had grown to maturity who had heard Ebenezer 
Porter declare before the student evangelistic associations at Andover in 
1832 that he deemed it "all important that ministers, and those who are 
preparing to become ministers, should be revival men." 18 At Amherst, 
Heman Humphrey, president from 1823 to 1845 and a spiritual product of 
the Yale College awakening of the first decade of the century, made seasons 
of revival a central feature of college life and a chief goal of ministerial 
training. From the time of his retirement there until his death in 1861, 
Humphrey was employed as a "new measures" evangelist among the New 
England churches. 19 Mark Hopkins's presidency at Williams College was 
likewise contemporaneous with a thoroughly revivalistic program. His own 
son, Henry, was an active soul winner and a close friend of the future 
evangelist, Edward Payson Hammond, during their student days in the 
1850's. 20 

Leonard Bacon carried on at Yale the traditions of the generation of 
Nathaniel W. Taylor and Asahel Nettelton. Bacon was pastor of The 
First Church, New Haven, from 1825 to 1866, and was a chief figure 
in the development of a stronger denominational consciousness. Before 
Taylor's death in 1858, he and Bacon joined forces many times in pro- 
tracted meetings in New Haven. They often employed the revivalist 
Edward Norris Kirk the last time in 1850, after Kirk had become min- 
ister of Mt. Vernon Church, Boston. In later years Bacon expressed the 
conviction that Taylor's long and rich experience in revivals was the in- 
spiration of his progressive theology. "The passion of his life was so to 
preach and to instruct and train his pupils so to preach that conversions 

occ^ S conservative contemporaries often noted: Philip Scnaff, America . , . (New York, 
1855;, pp. 183, 173 ff. ; Alexander Blailde, Philosophy of Sectarianism . . . (Boston, 1855) 
pp. 166-68. 

18 Ebenezer Porter, Letters on the Religious Revivals which Prevailed about the 
Beginning of the Present Century (2nd. ed., Boston, 1858), pp. 2-3. 

19 Heman Humphrey, Revival Sketches and Manual (New York, 1859), pp 329-38- 
The Puriten Recorder, Feb. 16, 1854. Frederic L. Thompson sketched Humphrey's life for 
th.e L/.A.JD. 

80 P. C. Headley, The Harvest Work of the Holy Spirit, Illustrated in the Evangelistic 
Labors of Rev. Edward Payson Hammond (6th ed., Boston, 1862), pp. 41-61, 



should follow, not at some future day, but immediately." 21 The revivals 
at Yale in 1857 and 1858 were thus in accord with the liberal, evangelistic 
spirit which had permeated the religious life of the college for the previous 
half-century. 22 

Kirks great success at Mt. Vemon was an instruction to his fellow 
pastors. He had first come to prominence in the 1830's while at the Fourth 
Presbyterian Church, Albany, New York. Five years of travel and evan- 
gelism followed before he accepted in 1842 the pastorate of the Boston 
congregation, organized as a result of the revivals he conducted there that 
year. Mt. Vemon soon became the major soul-winning institution in the 
city, responsible for the work with young men which produced in 1851 
the first Y.M.C.A. and, a few months later, the conversion of Dwight L. 
Moody. Throughout his ministerial career, Kirk was a principal sponsor 
of some educational institution and an inveterate promoter of college 
revivals. His Premium Essay on Prayer for Colleges, published in 1855 by 
the Western College Association, appeared later in many forms. 23 

Congregational newspapers mirrored the influence of such men at mid- 
century in numerous editorials and regular columns of revival news. In 
Boston The Puritan Recorder, representing the traditions of Orthodox 
Calvinism, agreed with the liberal Congregationalist in urging efforts for 
more and greater awakenings. Accounts of them in both papers differed 
from similar Methodist reports only in that here sinners were "hopefully 
converted" instead of confident of "the witness of the Spirit." 24 In 1854, 
for example, the churches in industrial Nashua, New Hampshire, and 
Lawrence, Massachusetts, reported scores of conversions in nightly union 
meetings lasting several weeks. Campton, New Hampshire, had enjoyed 
throughout the previous year a powerful awakening, concerning which a 
witness wrote, "We could no longer hesitate to say, The Pentecost has 
fully come/" 25 

21 Quoted in David O. Mears, Life of Edward Norris Kirk, D.D. (Boston, 18771 p. 
334; cf. pp. 332-35. 

82 For revival accounts, see The Puritan Recorder, Jan. 15, 1857, and Conant, op. dt. f p. 
378^ Sidney Earl Mead, Nathaniel William Taylor, 1786-1858; a Connecticut Liberal 
(Chicago, 1942), pp. 147-57 and passim, explains the close relationship between Taylor 
and Lyman Beecher and describes the place of revivalism in their program before 1832. 

23 Harris Elwood Starr wrote the sketch for the D.AB.; cf. Hopkins, op, dt., p. 17, and 
Mears. op. czt., p. 336 and passim. See later pp. 53-4, 73. 

84 "We Need A Revival of Religion," The Puritan Recorder, Feb. 2, 1854. Cf. the 
issue of March 23, 1854, and the extensive notes on college revivals, Apr. 6, 1954. 

28 The Puritan Recorder, Feb. 16, 1854. See generally the "revival columns" each suc- 
ceeding winter and spring both in this newspaper and The Congregationalist. 



The Independent, a weekly newspaper founded in New York City in 
1848 to propagate the views of liberal Congregationalists outside New 
England, was no less friendly to revivalism. From the very first the paper 
carried full accounts of unusual awakenings among Baptists, Presbyterians, 
and Methodists, as well as in its own churches. 26 In the winter of 1849-50 
a series of letters appeared offering the thesis that the revival method 
"conforms to the natural laws of the mind" since man's emotions and 
intellect are awakened most effectively when he acts with a group. "A 
thorough religious conviction," the writer argued, "together with the 
sympathies, associations and friendships of such an era, form the beginnings 
of a heartily religious life, such as may be looked for elsewhere in vain. 
. . ." 2T Editorial and news items supporting this view appeared frequently 
in succeeding years. In 1855 the successful Iowa intinerary of pastor- 
evangelist George Clark, formerly of Connecticut, received a glowing 
notice; and Henry Ward Beecher wrote from Boston that there was 'great 
hope and promise of revivals of religion once more in the old Puritan 
city." 28 

Here, at least, were men not identifiable with antiquated orthodoxy upon 
whom Horace BushnelFs criticism of new measures evangelism had had 
little effect. It may be significant that one of Bushnell's young parish- 
ioners, Richard Morse, who was for much of his adult life national secretary 
of the Y.M.C.A., remembered his boyhood pastor of the 1850s most for 
the seasons of "special religious interest" which Bushnell sponsored each 
year and the young people's prayer meetings held every week. 29 In any 
case, when the Boston pastors invited Charles G. Finney to conduct a six- 
week union campaign at Park Street Church in 1857, none could doubt 
that the revivalism Finney championed had at last won the approval of 
Eastern Congregationalists. 30 

Perhaps one reason for this was that Oberlin College had become a chief 

30 The Independent, Dec 28, 1848, Jan. 4 and 11, and May 3, 1849. 

"The Independent, Jan, 10, 1950. Of. the articles, "What Directions Shall We Give 
to ,^? rers? and J hn Dudlev > "Means of a Revival/* in the issue of March 14 1850 
and "Times of Refreshing," Sept. 20, 1855. 

VTfeE Independent, Jan. 11 and March 29, 1855. See also, "How to Have a Revival" 
and Preaching to the Heart," Jan. 12, 1854, and, in the same issue, "Direct Labors for 
Souls repnnted from The Oberlin Evangelist. Cf. revival news in the issues of Jan. 4, 
Jan. 18, March 15, March 29, and May 3, 1855. 

"Richard C. Morse My Life With Young Men; Fifty Years in The Young Men's 

&^ 1918X PP ' ^ ^ *- **' ^ * 45 ' -* BushneU 

Finney, op, cit., pp. 441-42. a. The Watchman and Reflector, Jan. 22, 1857, quoting 



agent in crystallizing denominational sentiment in the growing Western 
wing of the church. Lyman Beecher's difficulties at Lane Theological 
Seminary, Cincinnati, like those his son Edward experienced while presi- 
dent of Illinois College, amply demonstrated the prejudices which many 
Presbyterians in the West held against new measures. When it became 
apparent in 1835 that Oberlin men were to be excluded from the Plan of 
Union presbyteries, President Asa Mahan and Professor Henry Cowles 
spearheaded the withdrawal of 'The General Association of the Western 
Reserve." The college church, which was its center, remained for decades 
the largest Congregational body beyond the Alleghenies, Though Finney 
himself refused confinement to either sect or section, churches of the de- 
nomination were the chief beneficiaries of his many "union" campaigns in 
Eastern and Western cities. In the long run they dared not bind the hands 
that served them. 31 

Nor could the New School Presbyterians, whose leaders in the East, at 
least, closely followed the progressive Congregationalists in the use of the 
new soul-winning techniques. Albert Barnes, for forty years pastor of the 
First Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, and a chief promoter of Union 
Theological Seminary in New York, was foremost among the distinguished 
group of revival men who dominated the New School synods. Others were 
George Duffield, Lyman Beecher, Nathaniel S. S. Beman, and George 
Barrell Cheever, editor in the 1850's of Finney's old paper, The New York 
Evangelist, by then the most influential weekly in the denomination. 82 
Barnes published in 1841 a significant series of articles calling for united 
efforts to promote revivals in urban centers. He insisted that there was 
nothing in the nature of city populations to prevent their occurrence there; 
rather, they ought to flourish where social ties of communication and 
interdependence were strongest. 33 The next year, New School and Congre- 
gational pastors planned Edward N. Kirk's union campaigns in Phila- 

an article, "Direct Preaching," from the Old School Presbyterian New York Observer 
praising Finney's manner of preaching; and The Watchman, March 19, 1857. 

81 See Henry Cowles, "Ohio Congregationalism/* The Congregational Quarterly, V 
(1863-64), pp. 140-41; Robert S. Fletcher, A History of Oberlin College, from Its Founda- 
tion Through the Civil War (Oberlin, Ohio, 1943), I, pp. 220-21; and Finney, op. dt., 
pp. 435-40. Lewis G. Vander Velde, ed., "The Diary of George Dumeld," The Mississippi 
Valley Historical Review, XXIV (1937-38), p. 33, records Finney's influence over Detroit 
Congregationalists and Presbyterians in 1847. 

** Frederick T. Persons wrote the sketch of Cheever for the D.AB.; Charles Noble, the 
excellent one on Barnes. 

" Albert Barnes, "Revivals of Religion in Cities and Large Towns," The American 
National Preacher, XV (1841), pp. 3, 7-8. 



delphia, New York, New Haven, and Boston in order to test this theory. 34 
The sharp resistance which greeted their efforts faded as passing years made 
Barnes and Kirk respected names in American church life. 35 

Nathaniel Beman, pastor for forty years of the First Presbyterian Church, 
Troy, New York, and president from 1845-65 of the institution which later 
became Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, exerted a comparable influence. 
Rebuked by his associates for undertaking a series of revivals in 1826, 
Beman later won such esteem that he became moderator of the General 
Assembly in 1831 and nominal leader of the New School secession in 
1838. Promotion of awakenings and of educational institutions remained his 
twin passions, as illustrated by the "Troy and Albany Theological School," 
where he and Kirk joined in the 1830's in turning out revival preachers. 
By mid-century, virtually all New School colleges shared their aims. The 
results were recorded in the religious press, where news of Presbyterian 
awakenings apppeared almost as frequently as that from Methodists. 36 

That the new evangelism also made noticeable inroads in Old School 
Presbyterian circles further supports the thesis that a basic shift in attitudes 
was taking place. The success of a professional soul winner like Daniel 
Baker, who traveled in the South and Southwest and supported the col- 
lege founded in 1849 at his suggestion at Austin, Texas, is significant, but 
less so than the accommodation of urban congregations to the same methods. 
It was necessary, of course, not to seem to approve New School practices. 
Thus a writer in The. Ohio Observer belabored the "high pressure" system 
of modern revivals, while expressing thanksgiving that they were increasing 
both in number and power in all churches. He urged a return to the "old 
system" in which the whole congregation bore responsibility instead of 
delegating it to the pastor or evangelist. 37 

As early as 1858, Lewis Cheeseman, Old School pastor at Rochester, 

" Mears } o%. tit., pp. 222-23. 

att See, for attacks on tins crusade, Martin Moore, Boston Revival, 1842; a Brief History 
of the Evangelical Churches of Boston . . . (Boston, 1842); and Arthur Cleveland Coxe, 
Revivalism and the Chmch. A Letter to a Reviewer in Reply to Several Articles in The 
New Engender . . . (Hartford, 1843), pp. 34-45, an episcopalian view. Cf. Robert Wood- 
waxd Cushman, A Calm Review of the Measures Employed in the Religious Aveakeninz 
in Boston, 1842 , . . (Boston, 1846). 

* fl Ray Palmer Baker's sketch of Beman in the D.A.B. is complete on these points. See 
also The Christian Union and Religious Memorial, I (1848), pp. 121-23; and II (1849), 
pp. 252-54; The Puritan Recorder, Apr. 6 ? 1854; and the revival columns cited from 
various newspapers in the foregoing pages. 

* 7 Quoted in The Puritan Recorder, March 23, 1854. Headier, Evangelists in the 
Uiurch, pp. 195-208, 288-96, reviews from contemporary sources the careers of Baker and 
(X Parker. 



denied that efforts to promote revivals distinguished his group from New 
School Preshyterians. Protracted meetings which resulted in awakenings of 
marked extent were common, he asserted, at their "sacramental seasons/' 
Old School men heartily approved of the anxious bench, the inquiry room, 
and emotionally powerful preaching, so long as they were not accompanied 
by the doctrinal heresies current among their more liberal brethren. 

When we see the Spirit undervalued and set aside, except in name, and the 
Son dishonored in His reconciliation, and depravity denied, and human ability, 
and men and measures exalted; the work of reformation, however widespread 
and imposing, is not of God, but is a fearful apostasy from a primitive Chris- 
tianity, and will end in popery, or infidelity, or in some other form of ultimate 
evil, to which it tends. 38 

The argument was no longer over revivals or measures, but only the 
theological framework within which their success was to be interpreted. 

Revivalism was the core of the issues which racked the Lutheran synods 
after 1830. Samuel Simon Schmucker was the leader of the Americanized, 
or "New Lutheran" party, which, according to Philip Schaff, was probably 
the most numerous and certainly "the most active, practical and progressive" 
branch of the communion. Schmucker was the dominant figure in the 
General Synod's struggles to unite the church until 1856, and from 1826 
to that date the most important professor at its seminary in Gettysburg, 
Pennsylvania. He was a Princeton graduate, stanch Arminian, active sup- 
porter of the American Tract and Bible Societies and one of the first advo- 
cates of the Evangelical Alliance. 39 

Benjamin Kurtz, editor from 1833-58 of The Lutheran Observer the 
denomination's most influential English newspaper likewise supported 
revivals and opposed with equal fervor liturgical worship and the concept 
of a confessional church. Another important figure was Samuel Sprecher, 
president of Wittenberg College and Seminary, Springfield, Ohio. Sprecher 
was mentor of the synods which had withdrawn from the conservative 
Joint Synod of Ohio in 1840, He succeeded to the leadership of the evan- 

88 Lewis dieeseman, Differences "Between Old and New School Presbyterians , . . 
(Rochester, 1848), p. 170; cf. pp. 150, 174, 182-85. 

89 Schaff, op. cit., p. 183; Samuel Simon Schmucker, The American Lutheran Church, 
Historically, Doctrinally, and Practically Delineated, . . . (5th ed., Philadelphia, 1852), pp. 
247-73, passim. Two o the essays in the latter volume, pp. 1 1-40 and 90-1 19, are valuable 
historical accounts of American Lutheranism hefore 1840. Cf. Robert Fortenbaugh, 
"American Lutheran Synods and Slavery, 1830-1860," The Journal of Religion, XIII 
O933), pp. 72-73. 



gelistic party after Schmucker's retirement. The seminary at Springfield, 
Illinois, and the one sponsored by the Hartwick Synod in New York also 
adhered to the New Lutheran position. The Hartwick Synod, organized in 
1831 expressly to promote new measures and Americanization, was still too 
conservative for those of its members who withdrew in 1837 to found 
the radically revivalistic and antislavery Franckean Synod. 40 

Such men rejected both Calvinism and a rigid adherence to the Augsburg 
Confession. They insisted that Lutheranism was a "reformation in prog- 
ress." They supported new measures heartily, including the hotly contested 
mourner's bench, and divided their synods into "conferences," containing 
ordinarily from five to ten ministers, for the purpose of holding several 
protracted meetings each year within their boundaries. "This feature," 
wrote Schmucker, "mainly resembles the quarterly meetings of our Meth- 
odist brethren, and presents to pious and zealous ministers who are thirsting 
for the salvation of souls, the most direct opportunity they can desire, to 
glorify God, and advance his spiritual kingdom." 41 

The German-speaking confessional party, however, reigned supreme in 
the mimsterium of Pennsylvania and its offspring, the Joint Synod of 
Ohio. Missionaries from Pennsylvania, shocked by the extensive use of 
evangelistic methods in the North Carolina Synod, instituted in the 1820's 
the antirevival Tennessee Synod. It soon spread widely over Virginia and 
the Carolinas, as well as in its home state. 

Both clergy and laity in the Old Lutheran sections of the church were 
poorly educated, and the congregations were located chiefly in rural areas 
facts which explain the conservatism which they otherwise displayed by 
clinging to the German tongue. They were never able properly to support 
their few educational institutions. The Pennsylvania mimsterium finally 
threw its strength to the Gettsyburg school, in an arrangement guaranteeing 
them one crucial faculty appointment. The town and college became 
thenceforward a sort of theological no man's land, but revivals showed no 
signs of disappearing. 42 

40 Henry Eyster Jacobs, A History of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in The United 
States (Philip Schaff and others, eds., The American Church History Series, IV, New York, 
1893), pp. 365-69, 385-86, 487. Jacobs's account of the controversy, pp. 353-460, is com- 
plete, though confusingly organized. Cf., on the Franckean Synod, Fortenbaugh, loc. tit,, 
pp. 73, 74, 91. 

41 Schmucker, op. cit., pp. 66-67, 200, 243-44; Francis Springer, "Lutheramsm in The 
United States," The Evangelical Quarterly Review, XI (1859-60), pp. 98-99; Schaff, op. 
cit., pp. 168-72, 204. 

"Jacobs, op. eft., pp. 391, 393-94. The Puritan Recorder, March 12, 1854 reported a 
powerful revival at Gettysburg and various other Lutheran congregations. 



After 1840 the new immigration combined with a dawning desire for 
symbols of denominational identity and the influence of German theology 
to support a resurgence of conservative Lutheran strength. The Buffalo 
Synod, dating from 1845, and the far more important Missouri Synod 
took a determined stand for a full and literal acceptance of the Augsburg 
Creed as the basis for a confessional communion. The Missouri Synod 
was organized at Chicago in April, 1847, under the leadership of C. F. W. 
Walther, one of the first German immigrants to St. Louis, and F. C. D. 
Wynekin, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, a graduate of Gottingen and Halle 
Universities. Close ties with Germany enabled it to rally a large portion 
of the incoming settlers to its standard. Less rigid, but equally unresponsive 
to Americanizing tendencies, were the new Iowa and Michigan synods. 48 

Scandinavian immigrants, it should be noted, seem to have gravitated 
more readily to the New Lutheran position. Elling Eilsen, a Norwegian 
revival preacher, founded a small Midwestern synod for his countrymen in 
1846. The pioneer Swedish home missionary in America, Lars Paul 
Esbjorn, had also been a revivalist in his homeland. The American Board 
of Home Missions, a Congregational organization, supported Esbjorn 
after 1849. He first shepherded his people into the Americanized synod of 
Northern Illinois, associated with the Springfield seminary. Two of the 
eight pastors who founded it had come from the Franckean synod. In 1860 
Esb]6rn led the Scandinavians into the independent Augustana Synod. 44 

The new strength of the liturgical party was dramatized in 1853 when 
the Pennsylvania ministerium led a group of its members back into the 
General Synod as the first move in a campaign to regain leadership of the 
church. Continual trumpeting for denominational distinctiveness was their 
chief tactical weapon. A writer in The Evangelical Quarterly Review, for 
example, denounced the anxious bench as an "un-Lutheran" method of 
dealing with the awakened. One synodical pastoral address blamed the 
slow rate of the church's growth on the "extreme latitudinarianism" of 
New Lutheran ministers. They had, it charged, so effectively established 
the similarity of the Lutheran to other evangelical denominations that their 
own members were transferring in large numbers. 'We have an historical 

** Jacobs, op. cit., pp. 397-410; Schaff, op. cit., pp. 188-89. 

"Florence E. Janson, The Background of Swedish Immigration, 1 840- I 930 (Chicago, 
1931), pp. 187-92, 196-99, 203, 206, is very complete at this point. Cf. Jacobs, op. cit., 
pp. 411-15, and Oscar N. Olson, The Augustana Lutheran Church in America: Pioneer 
Period, J846-1860 (Rock Island, 111., 1950), pp. 242-61. Olson, in these pages and on pp. 
239-41 and yassim, disowns the revivalistic background of early Augustana Lutheranism. 



prestige and a confession of faith," the address ran. "Why, then, do we 
not avail ourselves of the armor furnished to our hands and get to ourselves 
a name and a position which shall be to the glory of Protestantism?" 45 

On the other hand, however, reunion required traditionalists to accept 
the contention which Schmucker had elaborated at great length that the 
revivalists were indeed true Lutherans. The Gettsyburg professor himself 
delivered the synodical sermon at the union meeting in 1853. Though 
moderate in tone, Schmucker's address rejected any return to sectarianism, 
liturgical forms, or confessional dogmatism. Its climax was a strong appeal 
to promote "genuine piety" through revivals and active support of "the 
great Christian enterprises of the day," the tract, temperance, Bible and 
home mission societies. He cried: 

Without holiness no one shall see God. As all men are by nature and prac- 
tice sinners; unless a man be born again, be converted from sin to holiness, he 
cannot see the kingdom of heaven. The grand object of ministers and congrega- 
tions should be, to admit none but sincere professors into the church, men who 
have experienced a change of heart. . . . The various means of grace and 
privileges of the church, are designed to promote this spiritual renovation and 
sanctification. . . . Let us, therefore, my brethren, unitedly set our faces against 
dead formality in religion .... Let us employ every means to call sinners to 
repentance. . . . Yea, we should labor and pray for the effusion of the Holy 
Spirit, that every congregation may be visited by a pentecostal season of 
revival. . . . 4e 

For many years the evangelicals were able successfully to defend their 
position in the Lutheran Church. Though Schmucker failed to achieve 
general acceptance of his revision of the Augsburg Confession, some con- 
servative synods came "fully up to the Spirit of the times," as one of their 
defenders wrote, in supporting Bible and tract societies and measures of 
active evangelization. 47 Benjamin Kurtz organized in 1857 the Melancthon 

48 Quoted in Jacobs, op. cit., pp. 453-54. See also A. M. Ziegler, "Treatment of the 
Awakened," The Evangelical Quarterly Review, DC (1857-58), pp. 237-38 and passim. 

46 S. S. Schmucker, The Peace of Zion: a Discourse Preached before the General 
Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church . . . (Gettysburg, Pa., 1853), pp. 36-37; cf. 
pp. 19, 29-30, 32-33, and Scnmucker, American Lutheran Church, p. 213. 

47 "The Present Position of the Lutheran Church," The Evangelical Quarterly Review, 
XI (1859-60), pp. 31, 35-37, by a moderate conservative, is to be compared with Francis 
Springer, "Lutheranism in The United States/' the same, pp. 97, 101-2. "Dr. 
Schimiclcer's Lutheran Symbols," the same, VIII (1856-57), pp. 453-85 is a doctrinal 
and historical examination of the controversy which had raged around the professor's 
proposal and, in part, an answer to his American Lutheranism Vindicated; or Examination 
of the Lutheran Symbols^ on Certain Disputed Topics . . . (Baltimore, 1856). 



Synod in Maryland, the liberal creed of which was a slightly revised 
version of the one drawn up for the Evangelical Alliance, He established the 
next year a training institute for revival preachers at Selinsgrove, Pennsyl- 
vania. Many younger men joined Kurtz and Sprecher in the fight for a 
liberal, progressive church, one which would stay in the main channel of 
American Protestantism. Though the compromise finally reached involved 
surrender of the Methodist mourner's bench, it also required Old Lutherans 
to accept an historical rather than a literal interpretation of the creeds. 48 

A detailed chronicle of the incidence of revival measures among Cumber- 
land Presbyterians, Disciples of Christ, and Friends is unnecessary for the 
purpose of this chapter. Albert Henry Newman suggested over fifty years 
ago that discontent with the antirevival movement among Baptists made 
possible the success of Disciples evangelism in the West. Though the 
Friends were weakened by the divisions over the liberalism of Elias Hicks, 
John Joseph Gurney's visit in 1837 directed the more orthodox yearly 
meetings along the path of evangelism toward the Puritan and quietly 
Methodistic customs which they were following by 1880. 49 

There can be no doubt that the popularity of revival men and methods 
surged forward in the major segments of American religion between 1840 
and 1860. Particularly striking is the fact that rural and frontier areas 
seemed by the decade of the slavery crisis to have been supporting laggardly 
the measures which had nurtured their religious life fifty years before. Now 
Eastern and urban evangelism played the dominant role. What are the 
reasons for these changes? 

The system of voluntary church membership and support, peculiar to 
this country, was probably the chief factor. Since the decision to become 
an active member was made in adulthood, the ancient Baptist concept of 
a "believer's church" inevitably flourished, even among Lutherans and 

i8 Jacobs, op. cit., pp. 424, 432; "The Present Position of the Lutheran Church/' loc. 
cit., pp. 40-43; R. Weiser, "A Want in the Lutheran Church Met by the Founding of 
the Missionary Institute/' The Evangelical Quarterly Review, X (1858-59), pp. 332-47. 
Cf., generally, Jacobs, oy. cit., pp. 421-70, and Philip Schaff's wishful prediction o the 
decline of Lutheran revivalism in America, p. 176. 

49 Newman, op. cit., pp. 440-41; Benjamin B. Tyler, A. C. Thomas, and others, A 
History of the Disciples of Christ, The Society of Friends, The United Brethren in Christ, 
and The Evangelical Association (Philip Schaff and others, eds., The American Church 
History Series, XII, New York, 1894), pp. 267-71, 302-4; Robert V. Foster, "A Sketch of 
the History of The Cumberland Presbyterian Church/' in the same volume, p. 291 and 



Episcopalians. And sinners became believers most readily when emotional 
tides ran high. 60 

On the other hand, the decline of uncouth expressions of emotion made 
protracted meetings more palatable to educated clergymen and city dwellers 
conscious of the social graces. Charles G. Finney opposed loud praying 
and pounding on benches with the observation that "Inquirers needed more 
opportunity to think than they had when there was so much noise." 
Robert Baird insisted that in thirty years of revivals he had "never, but in 
one instance, and that a very slight one and for a moment, witnessed any 
audible expression of emotion" in an evangelistic service. Though his state- 
ment was not applicable to the Methodists, critical witnesses were more 
than once surprised when "a stillness and a solemnity, almost oppressive" 
pervaded their places of worship. Even at camp meetings they placed great 
emphasis upon the "blessed quietness" of the Spirit's presence and expected 
leaders to restrain the fervor of the flock. 51 

The role of educational leaders was all important. Nearly every 
prominent evangelist gave time and raised money for a college which he 
hoped would train young ministers to follow in his steps. In this respect 
Oberlin was only in degree more significant than Amherst, Rensselaer, 
Rochester, Wittenberg, Connecticut Wesleyan, Ohio Wesleyan, Gettys- 
burg, and Western Reserve colleges and Lane, Yale, Andover, and Union 
theological seminaries. Here men of piety and scholarship purged American 
revivals of their fanaticism, grounded them on liberalized Calvinist or 
Arminian doctrines, and set their course in a socially responsible direction. 

It is difficult but necessary for modern students to realize, morever, that 
in the nineteenth century revival measures, being new, usually went hand 
in hand with progressive theology and humanitarian concern. Only thus 
could they have won the support of so many, both in and outside the 
churches, who wished Christianity to become a dynamic force for the 
reformation of human society, Albert Barnes and Emerson Andrews were 
in this respect not a step behind Charles G. Finney, who insisted as late 
as 1868 that "the loss of interest in benevolent enterprises" was usually 
evidence of a "backslidden heart." Among these, Finney specified good 

" Thomas Fenner Curtis, The Progress of Baptist Principles in the Last Hundred Years 
(Boston, 1857), pp. 60-72, presents an amusing interpretation. 

81 Finney, op. cit., pp. 462-63; Baird, Religion in America, p. 205; The Watchman and 
Reflector, Jan, 19, 1854. Charles A. Johnson, "The Frontier Camp Meeting: Contemporary 
and Historical Appraisals, 1805-1840," The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XXXVII 
(1950-51), pp. 9M10. 



government, Christian education, temperance reform, the abolition of 
slavery, and relief for the poor. 52 

Societies devoted to these ends education, Bible, home mission, tract, 
Sunday-school and temperance organizations generally cut across de- 
nominational lines. By mid-century they had become to thoughtful Protes- 
tants the symbols of a common national faith. The prominent part which 
liberal revivalists played in them could not but win favorable attention from 
a generation which was earnestly seeking a basis for Christian union. The 
antirevival Orthodox Calvinists, on the other hand, usually isolated them- 
selves from such "creaturely activities." Inevitably, their doctrinal excuses 
seemed to the average man mere sectarian cant. 

Another factor in their success was the way in which the revivalists 
popularized an enlarged concept of the work of the Holy Spirit. They thus 
carried one step further the long process of accommodating Calvinism to 
free grace and, by implication, to the ideals of an equalitarian society. Men 
like Knapp and Kirk and Schmucker clothed measures once regarded as 
human devices with the garb of divine sanctity. Their very efficiency 
seemed a mark of God's favor. The greater the uniqueness and emotional 
power of an awakening, the more easily was such supernatural agency 
affirmed. 53 

Finally, on the practical level revivals meant many things to many people. 
Those blessed with a wide social vision thought of them as a chief means 
of converting human institutions to Christian principles. Individual con- 
verts, in many cases, sought only fulfillment of the aspiration for forgive- 
ness and personal union with the Saviour. Pastors saw church problems 
melt away and financial surpluses appear. Treasurers of benevolent as- 
sociations happily tallied increasing returns from recently awakened com- 
munities. Denominational leaders were as gratified by the growth in mem- 
bers as editors and publishers were pleased with new subscriptions to re- 
ligious journals. The rise of tremendous individual congregations under 
liberal, revival clergymen was a pointed lesson to all. The substantial fruits 
of fervor thus became an authoritative object lesson to pragmatic Ameri- 
cans. The author of Primitive Piety Revived was soon offering expert advice 

" See the 1868 preface to Finney's Lectures on Revivals of Religion (New York, 1898), 
pp. v and 415-16; and Barnes's introduction to Samuel Davies, Sermons on Important 
Subjects . . . (2nd. ed., Edinburgh, 1867), p. 6. 

" Sec the editorial, "The Holy Spirit," The Independent, Nov. 22, 1855. 



on "power in the pulpit" And Boston had at last believed in Finney for 
the very works' sake. 54 

In summary, the revival fervor which had earlier seemed typical of the 
rural West became in the years between 1840 and 1857 a dominant mood 
in urban religious life. Under the sponsorship of city pastors, the "new 
measures'* which had from their beginnings characterized Methodist and 
New School Presbyterian churches managed at last to conquer Calvinistic 
scruples against them in Baptist, Congregational, and Reformed com- 
munions, and to make deep inroads in Old School Presbyterian circles as 
well. Lutheranism's strongest party, though not by any means entirely 
urban, was as thoroughly evangelistic in work and worship as many of the 
German Methodist sects. The most provincial rural sections of the 
Lutheran, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches were now the strongholds of 
antirevival feeling, though the Cumberland Presbyterians, Disciples of 
Christ, and Freewill Baptists kept the fire burning on several frontiers. 
The common notion that, except for occasional sporadic outbursts led by 
Finney, Moody, and the Y.M.GA., revivalism declined steadily after the 
great Western awakening burned out around 1840, seems in direct con- 
tradiction to the facts. 

The awakening of 1858, as we shall see in a moment, was both the 
climax of these long trends and the result of united efforts by urban church- 
men of many denominations. In the two years immediately preceding it, 
hundreds of them had labored to precipitate a national Pentecost which 
they hoped would baptize America in the Holy Spirit and in some mystic 
manner destroy the evils of slavery, poverty, and greed. Thereafter, and 
during the Civil War especially, "union" city-wide campaigns and pro- 
tracted meetings in churches of every description, metropolitan and rural, 
became the order of the day. 

c * Henry C Fish, "Power m the Pulpit," The Christian Review, XXVII (1862), 
pp. 1 18-42, exhorted clergymen to sound Christian experience and revival methods. 



Annus M.irabilis 1858 

What attracted the attention of secular newspaper reporters 
to the awakening of 1858 was the frenzied growth after February 1 that 
year of daily, noontime interdenominational prayer meetings. Although 
weekly laymen's gatherings had dotted New York City the previous fall, 
Jeremiah C. Lanphier, a neighborhood missionary employed by the Old 
Dutch Church on Fulton Street, had organized on September 23 the first 
one to come to prominence in connection with the revival. Increasing 
interest converted it into a daily gathering on October 7, just a few days 
before the stock-market crash brought unrest and unemployment to clerks 
and businessmen in the financial district nearby. By midwinter the crowds 
had overflowed into the John Street Methodist Church, around the corner. 1 
Late in February James Gordon Bennett, one of America's pioneers in 
sensational newspaper editing, began to exploit revival news in his New 
York Herald. Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, responded 
to the challenge with a stream of editorials and news stories. These came 
to a climax in April with a special revival issue of the Tribunes weekly 
edition. Simultaneously, religious and secular newspapers all over the 
country began giving prominent notice to noonday prayer meetings. 2 
Groups of clergymen and local units of the Y.M.C.A. found it easy to 
begin such gatherings. Some which had been struggling for survival sud- 
denly attracted huge crowds. 3 By April twenty were in progress in New 

three most important contemporary accounts of the revival are Talbot W. 
Chambers, Noon Prayer Meeting of the North Dutch Church . . . (New York, 1858), pp. 
39-90; Samuel Irenaeus Prime, The Power of Prayer, Illustrated in the Wonderful Displays 
of Divine Grace at the Fulton Street and Other Meetings . . . (New York, 1859), pp. 20- 
43, by a Methodist minister who had access to Lanphier's diary; and William C. Conant, 
Narratives of Remarkable Conversions and Revival Incidents . . . (New York, 1858), pp. 
354-444, which summarized newspaper material available at the height o the excitement 
around May 1. 

* Russell E. Francis, Pentecost: 1858. A Study in Religious Revivals (unpublished PhJD. 
dissertation, The University of Penn., 1948), is a somewhat dramatic treatment of what 
may be known from Y.M.C.A. literature and the files of secular newspapers; it analyzes 
Greeley's role, pp. 68-74. 

8 See, for example, first reports of large crowds at the meetings in Boston, Providence, 
and Portland in The Watchman and Reflector, March 25, 1858. 



York alone, including two famous ones at Burton'sTheater and the Music 
Hall. Dozens of churches there had begun nightly meetings. The Metro- 
politan Theater in Chicago was crowded with two thousand daily at- 
tendants. In Philadelphia mammoth prayer services in Jaynes Hall, Handel 
and Haydn Hall, and the American Mechanics Auditorium finally gave 
way in the summer to those held for four months under a great tent. The 
most spectacular of many revivals in public high schools was in Cleveland, 
where all but two boys professed conversion. 4 

The mode of worship was the same in all the meetings. There was no 
ritual or prepared plan. Any person present might pray, exhort, lead in song, 
or give testimony as he felt "led/' only keeping within the five-minute time 
limit and avoiding controversial subjects like water baptism or slavery. 
Distinctions between the sects and between ministers and laymen were 
ignored. The joyous liberty of the camp meeting "love feast" was thus 
transferred to an urban setting. The sound of the leader's bell provided 
a businesslike touch appropriate to the new environment. 6 

The revival is often attributed to mass hysteria resulting from both the 
long strain of the slavery crisis and the shock of the panic of 1857. Certainly 
the latter was an important factor. James Waddell Alexander, pastor of the 
largest Old School Presbyterian Church in New York, for example, joined 
many contemporaries in thinking the financial crisis proof that God had 
been pleased "by the ploughshare of his judgments to furrow the ground 
for the precious seed of salvation." 6 Two new means of mass communica- 
tion, the "penny" press and the national telegraph system, helped to snow- 
ball enthusiasm. They were, as one observer remarked, "taken possession of 

* Frank Grenville Beardsley, A History of American Revivals (2nd. ed.; New York, 
1912), pp. 222-26, summarizes these reports; cf. Prime, op. cit., p. 171, and The Watch- 
man and Reflector, March 4 and and 18, 1858, for church revivals and prayer meetings. 

8 Chambers, op. cit., pp. 47-54. 

* James Waddell Alexander, The Revival and Its Lessons . . . (New York, 1858) p. 6. 
Cf. Humphrey, Revival Sketches and Manual (New York, 1859), pp. 269-79- Harper's 
Monthly, XVI (1858), pp. 840-41; The Watchman and Reflector, Dec. 17, 1857, and Jan 
14, 1858; and A. P. Marvin, "Three Eras of Revivals in The United States," BiUiotheca 
Sacra, XVI (1859), pp. 296-97. 

Two European visitors in close touch with American evangelical leaders emphasized 
the economic factor: Gasparin, Uprising, p. 67; and Fisch, Nine Months, p. 151. It is treated 
cautiously in Beardsley, op. cit., pp. 216-17, hut with some abandon by Russell E. Francis, 
Joe. cit., pp. 77-93, and Carl Lloyd Spicer, "The Great Awakening of 1857 and 1858," 
Ohio State University, Abstracts of Dissertations Presented by Candidates for the Degree 
of Doctor of Philosophy, Summer Quarter, 1935 (Columbus, 1935), pp. 149-57. Similar 
but less completely documented interpretations appeared earlier in Henry Steele Commager 
Theodore Parker (Boston, 1936), pp. 269-71, and Grover Cleveland Loud, Evangelized 
America (New York, 1928), pp. 216-32. 


by the Spirit, willing or unwilling, to proclaim his wonders." Lanphier, 
sensing the value of publicity, had early in January solicited the New York 
dailies to report his meetings. 7 Heman Humphrey felt that the newspaper 
coverage was so complete as to distort comparisons with previous revivals. 
He remembered that in the awakenings of 1832 it had been impossible to 
get "even a short paragraph of religious intelligence into a secular city 
paper/' Now that revivals had become interdenominational, he noted, these 
papers could report them fully without offense to any sect. This fact 
explains why even in 1858 the secular press gave much greater attention 
to the activities of the nonsectarian Y.M.C.A. than to the churches, in 
strong contrast to the reports in denominational weeklies. 8 

The latter, in fact, reveal a movement reaching deep into the life of 
the churches and related more directly than is generally believed to their 
recent efforts to quicken the spiritual and moral currents in American 
society. A healthy alarm over the standstill of proportionate membership in 
evangelical communions in Boston, New York, and Pittsburgh had been 
evident for some time, despite the knowledge that most of the population 
increase was from Roman Catholic immigration and that many Protestant 
families were moving to suburban communities. 9 Those conservatives 
whose real concern was the waning prestige of Mr. Calvin's five points, to 
be sure, offered only dark forebodings as to the "low state of religion." 
Their later disposition to ascribe to the Divine Spirit alone all credit for 
the wonders of 1858 further dimmed public memories of the hopeful efforts 
others put forth to precipitate the awakening. 10 

Especially important was a carefully organized program to evangelize 
New York City's impoverished masses. In September, 1856, the New York 
Sunday School Union allocated to each church responsibility to visit homes 
and organize mission Sunday schools in a destitute area. The plan caught 
the imagination of laymen in such great churches as those where 
George B. Cheever, J. W. Alexander, and William Adams were serving as 

7 Conant, op. cit., pp. 395-96; Prime, op. cit., p. 36. 

8 Humphrey, op. cit., pp. 281-82. Charles H. Hopldns, History of the Y.M.C.A. in 
North America (New York, 1951), pp. 81-84, even more than Francis, loc. cii., pp. 64-66 
and passim, emphasizes the singular function of the Y.M.C.A. 

* Henry C. Fish, Primitive Piety Revived . . . (Boston, 1857), pp. 23-25; Alexander 
Blaikie, Philosophy of Sectarianism . . . (Boston, 1855), pp. 327-28; The Watchman and 
Reflector, Feb. 5, 1857. 

10 "Where Are We Drifting," The Puritan Recorder, Feb. 5, 1857; Humphrey, op. cit., 
pp. 276-79; Chambers, op. cit., p. 267. The Christian Register (Boston's Unitarian weekly), 
Oct, 17, 1857, lampooned The Recorder's pessimistic conservatism. 



pastors. The following spring two thousand visitors, working in teams of 
two for each block, blanketed the city from the lowliest to the most fashion- 
able streets. They visited the unchurched every month and ministered to 
whatever spiritual or material needs they found. In July, 1857, the Old 
Dutch Church employed Jeremiah Lanphier to superintend such work 
among the poor who had crowded into the Fulton Street neighborhood, as an 
alternative to following other Protestant congregations uptown. The famous 
prayer meeting which Lanphier instituted that fall for his band of lay 
visitation assistants was, in fact, no different from those in progress in a 
score of churches. The events which in succeeding months gave him lasting 
prominence served to obscure the memory of the others. 11 

By January, 1858, when an agent of the Sunday-school union described 
the New York plan to a large interchurch group at Dr. Edward N. Kirk's 
meetinghouse in Boston, it was operating with similar success in Brooklyn, 
Hartford, Detroit, and Buffalo. That revivals followed immediately should 
be no surprise. A working laity rapidly developed the necessary attitudes of 
concern and expectancy. And they brought new grist to the mill, 12 

In other ways as well church leaders were striving for a national awaken- 
ing. New School Presbyterian "Revival Conventions," held at Pittsburgh 
and Cincinnati in the fall of 1857, set aside the first Sunday of the new year 
for sermons on the necessity of a general awakening and the Thursday fol- 
lowing for fasting and prayer in its behalf. Late in December New 
York Baptist pastors were conducting each week an all-day union meeting of 
intercession for the Spirit's outpouring. Old School Presbyterians soon 
followed suit. 13 Congregational pastors in Rochester and Boston, Method- 
ists in Philadelphia, and Baptists in Baltimore and Cincinnati united about 
the same time in massive evangelistic campaigns in which Finney, Caughey, 
and Knapp prepared the way of the Lord. Finney's return to Boston for 
the second long meeting in twelve months drew larger crowds and, accord- 
ing to Beecher's Independent, suffered even less from prejudice than the 
preceding year. 14 

"Conant, op. dt. t pp. 358, 360, 413; Alexander, op. dt., pp. 171-74; Prime, ov. dt. 
pp. 21-22; Chambers, op. dt., pp. 27-38. 

"TTzfi Watchman and Reflector, Feb. 4 and March 4, 1858. Many accounts stressed 
the fruits of the revival among the poor: Prime, op. cit., pp. 220 ff., 258-63; James W. 
Alexander, Forty Years Familiar Letters of James W. Alexander . . . Qohn Hall, ed., New 
York, I860), H, pp. 276-77. 

18 Conant, op. dt., p. 358; The Watch-man and Reflector, Dec. 17, 1857. 

* Beardsley, op. dt., p. 224; Alexander, Letters, II, p. 227; The Independent, Tan. 7, 
1858. Cf. Jesse T. Peck, "Can We Have a Revival," The Guide to Holiness, XXXI 
(January-June, 1857), pp. 12-14. 



That many New England congregations meanwhile were spontaneously 
instituting days of fasting and prayer for the "descent of the Spirit" seemed 
to the editors of The Watchman and Reflector to foreshadow a deluge of 
divine grace. They praised the increasingly simple, direct preaching char- 
acteristic of so many pulpits and called all Christians to "self-examination, 
humility, and prayer/' Though at New Year's "God's Chariot" seemed yet 
"stayed in its coming," the editors urged faith and work for a Pentecostal 
outpouring which would "repress those scandalous vices which are making 
our great cities resemble Sodom and Gomorrah" and arm Christians for 
the early conversion of the world. 15 God's chariot arrived in time for the 
next week's mail. Revival reports poured in from the length and breadth 
of the land. A New York Baptist paper tabulated twelve thousand converts 
for a part of January alone, weeks before Greeley and Bennett helped to 
make the noonday meeting a national craze. 16 

In the record of the climactic five months from February to June, two 
facts stand out. Small towns and rural communities were as powerfully 
affected as the great cities; and support and participation came from major 
portions of every Protestant sect. 

The union prayer meeting was never an exclusively metropolitan insti- 
tution. As early as December, 1857, the daily one at Worcester, Massa- 
chusetts, and the weekly gathering which the Presbyterian, Dutch Re- 
formed, Methodist, and Baptist churches sponsored at Utica, New York, 
had moved to larger quarters. Dozens of such places as Peekskill, New 
York, and Bethel, Connecticut, eventually organized them. The one held 
in the latter place at 4:00 P.M. each day, attended by "farmers, mechanics 
and storekeepers," reported 200 conversions. 17 

Nor were protracted meetings in rural and small-town churches unim- 
portant. William C. Conant's compilation reveals that 88 towns in Maine, 
40 in New Hampshire, 39 in Vermont and 147 in Massachusetts ex- 
perienced unusual awakenings. Some of these, to be sure, may have been 
quite ordinary meetings which persons caught up in the universal excite- 
ment glowingly reported. But other evidence abounds. Methodists Walter 
and Phoebe Palmer wrote of conversions by the hundreds and crowds of 
5,000-6,000 at obscure camp meetings in Ontario and Quebec in 1857. 
That fall an afternoon prayer meeting in Hamilton, Ontario, stretched into 

" The Watchman and Reflector, Nov. 26, 1857 and Jan. 7, 1858. 
t9 The Watchman and Reflector, Jan. 14, 1858 and succeeding issues; The Puritan 
Recorder, Feb. 18, 1858. 

1T The Independent, Jan. 7, 1858; Conant, op. dt., pp. 367-79. 



a ten days* revival in which 400 were converted and scores sanctified. Lay 
testimonies rather than sermons, particularly in the afternoon meetings for 
holiness, were, Mrs. Palmer believed, chieSy responsible for these results. 18 

The winter's excitement found the Palmers successively in Owego, 
Binghamton, and Union, New York, for campaigns which Presbyterian, 
Congregationalism and Baptist pastors united to support. They reported 
from the Maritime Provinces in August, 1858, that 400 had been converted 
and 200 sanctified in twenty-three days at St. John, and 170 converted at 
Halifax. In October a tide of glory swept Prince Edward Island; more than 
700 were at the mourner's bench, and all the ministers on the district ex- 
perienced the "second blessing." 19 

A very great number of Baptist awakenings likewise broke out in small 
towns before the excitement in the cities reached its peak. In New England 
Boston seems to have been the least and last affected. 20 Typical examples 
were Sheldonville, Massachusetts, where five successive Mondays of fast- 
ing and prayer won twelve heads of families to the church, and Pawtucket, 
Rhode Island, blessed with seventy conversions from six weeks spent in 
nightly gatherings for testimony and exhortation. In mid-March unusual 
revivals were in progress at Waterford, Mystic River, Southington, Banks- 
ville, North Lyme, and Norwich, as well as Hartford and New Haven, 
Connecticut. Reports from Nantucket, West Royalton, Fairhaven, and 
Dartmouth, Massachusetts, appeared alongside the news of 500 converts 
in Newburyport and 600 in New Bedford. 21 

18 Conant, op. tit., pp. 426-30; Richard Wheadey, The Life and Letters of Mrs. Phoebe 
Palmer (New York, 1876), pp. 316-31, passim. 

"IW. pp. 312, 334-35, 337-44. Of. Homer S. Thrall, A Brief History of Methodism 
M Texas (Nashville, 1894), pp. 131-33. 

20 The Independent, Jan. 7, 1858; The Watchman and Reflector, Oct. 14, 1858. Follow- 
ing is a list of places where revivals were reported in The Watchman and Reflector between 
Dec. 24, 1857, and Feb. 4, 1858; die figure in parentheses represents the number of 
converts when it was given: Connecticut: Hampton (30), Brooklyn, Winstead (200) and 
Meriden (50); Rhode Island: Charlestown, Dorrville, South Ferry, Kingston, Usquequag 
East Greenwich, Wickford, and Central Falls; New York Wetskili (25), Weston (70) 
Ft. Edward (46), and Saratoga County; Massachusetts: Rock (80 in eleven weeks), Long 
Plain (15), North Tewksbury (30), North Oxbridge (30), Southwick, Scituate, North 
Cambridge, Andover, and Wales; Vermont: Whitingham (25), Lunenberg, Saxonville, 
North Easton Bridgwater, West Barre, St. Albans, Swanton, Fairfax, and Westford; New 
Hampshire: Manchester and Nashua (extensive community-wide awakenings); Maine: 
ihomaston. The distribution between town and city churches remained constant through- 
out the year. * 

**The Watchman and Reflector, Feb. 18 and March 25, 1858. Emerson Andrews, 
Ltvmg I t fe; or, Autobiography of Rev. Emerson Andrews, Evangelist (Boston, 1875), pp. 
173-82 does not, however, record anything remarkable about 1858. 



If the awakening dramatized the nearly complete acceptance of revival- 
ism among Baptists, it evoked surprising support from Old School Presby- 
terians, Episcopalians, and even Unitarians and Universalists. James W. 
Alexander's correspondence provides an intimate glimpse of a very con- 
servative Old School Calvinist being pulled along by the popular tide. On 
New Year's Day, 1858, Alexander had written sarcastically of the New 
York City churches which were "using terrible blast bellows to get up arti- 
ficial heat." On March 1 he admitted rather grudging pleasure at having 
received fifteen members, but expressed fear that the Fulton Street meetings 
would succumb to a "go-ahead, joyous, auction-like, unreverent elation" un- 
less the ministers assumed control as they had uptown. 

By April, however, "ten leading gentlemen" of his congregation had 
instituted a nightly prayer meeting at their mission chapel for the poor, and 
this Old School pastor was compelled to acknowledge that his efforts "to 
keep down and regulate excitement" had failed. He wrote to a friend at 
Princeton : 

Study I cannot, being run down by persons, many of whom I never knew, 
in search of counsel. . . . The openness of thousands to doctrine, reproof, etc., 
is undeniable. Our lecture is crowded unendurably, many going away. The 
publisher of Spurgeon's sermons says he has sold a hundred thousand. . . . You 
may rest assured there is a great awakening among us, of which not one word 
gets into the papers; and that there are meetings of great size, as free from 
irreverence as any you ever saw. 22 

Alexander remained adamant against "the license given A, B, or C, to 
teach or pray" in the union meetings. But he remarked that, nonetheless, 
a "still, solemn, and tender" atmosphere usually prevailed in them, "more 
like a communion than a prayer meeting." 23 

Low-Church Episcopalians, whose best-known leaders were Charles 
Pettit Mcllvaine, bishop of Ohio, and Stephen Higginson Tyng and his 
sons, pastors of immense congregations in Philadelphia and New York, 
welcomed the awakening with more abandon. Dudley A. Tyng was a 
prominent leader of the Jayns Hall meetings in Philadelphia. One ob- 
server believed that those "slain of the Lord" through one of his appeals 
outnumbered the results of "any sermon in modern times." When the 
young preacher died suddenly in April, his fame spread along with the 

aa Alexander, Letters, n, 275-77. Cf. Fletcher Harper's similar judgment, Haryer's 
Monthly, XVI (1858), p. 840. 
88 Alexander, Letters, H, 277-79. 



hymn, "Stand up for Jesus," which he had recently written an exhortation 
aimed, perhaps, at churchly timidity in testimony meetings. 24 

In Ohio, Bishop Mcllvaine devoted his annual diocesan report of June 
3, 1858, almost exclusively to the revival. He declared that its simplicity 
and "freedom from unwholesome excitement/' the display of brotherly 
love and union among Christians of different evangelical denominations/' 
the reliance upon the regular ministry and ordinances of grace and the wide 
extent of the work all confirmed him in "the decided conviction that it is 
'the Lord's doing/" He reported: 

Our own churches in this diocese, and in others have largely participated in 
this Messing. . . . Our own diocesan college [Kenyon] is thus favored. Pray for 
it, brethren. . . . Pray for our whole church, that no part of it may he unvisited 
in these "times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord." 25 

Meanwhile, the editors of The Church Journal, organ of the High Church 
party, felt called upon to print a series of articles claiming that the "church 
system" could give "full range for the proper working of the revival ele- 
ment, and at the same time furnish all requisite safeguards against the 
mischiefs of excess." Their chief recommendation was that ministers in all 
larger parishes conduct continuous evening services during the Advent and 
Lenten seasons Featuring free seats and "popular singing and preaching." 26 

Even more remarkable is the fact that Unitarian churches in New York 
and Boston united that spring in "densely crowded" weekly meetings for 
testimony and prayer. "The speaking," ran one report, "interspersed with 
one verse from hymns and tunes that have been sung from childhood, 
seemed to be taken home to every heart present." At Harvard, Frederic 
Dan Huntington, Plummer professor of Christian morals and preacher at 
the Appleton Chapel, conducted such a service on Wednesday evenings. 27 

After mid-March the editors of the denominational newspaper, The 
Christian Register, kept its readers abreast of events in the revival, always 

J * See William Wilson Manross, A History of the American Episcopal Church (2nd. ed., 
New York, 1950), pp. 251-52, 275-78, and passim; the sketches of the elder and youngei 
Stephen H. Tyng in National Cyclopaedia of Biography, H, 187-88; Prime, op. cit., pp 
46, 287-91; Chambers, op. cit., pp. 277, 279; and Stand Up For Jesus; a Christian Ballad 
. . . CPhiladelphia, 1858). The better-known hymn with the same title, "by a New School 
Presbyterian pastor in New Jersey, also appeared in 1858. 

JB Charles Pettit Mcllvaine, Bishop Mcllvaine on the Revival of Religion . . . CPhila- 
delphia, 1858), pp. 4, 11, 22. > s v 
^T" T ? c *- evival Systew <nd> the Paraclete. A Series of Articles from The Church Journal 
(New York, 1858), pp. 11-15; see also pp. 18, 20, 31-40, 44-45. 

"The Christian Register, March 20 and April 17, 1858; Conant, op. cit., p. 377. 
Frederic Dan Huntington, Permanent Realities of Religion, and the Present Religious 



approving^ the absence of sectarianism and emotional excitement. They 
agreed to "greet it and forward it, as far as it aims to promote pure religion 
in its practical, and therefore universally acknowledged truths." The edi- 
torial for April 3 praised the tearful testimony which a recent convert had 
given at a Unitarian-Universalist religious conference in Brookfield, devoted 
to the theme, 'What must I do to be saved?" And it criticized Portsmouth, 
New Hampshire, clergymen for giving "the Rev. Mr. Patterson, of the 
Universalist Church, a hint that his participation in the prayer meetings 
was not desired." 28 

The Monthly Religious Magazine, dominated by Huntington and the 
evangelical wing of the church, published three serious articles in defense 
of the awakening. Theodore Tebbetts declared that Unitarians had too 
much disregarded "the mysterious and spontaneous power of the union of 
hearts for the accomplishment of spiritual purposes." He believed the recent 
events had produced a "quickening of the general conscience" and "an 
advance in political and social morality" which would enable Christians to 
"carry their consecration into their daily lives in business and politics." A 
little later a Methodist journal reported with amazement that a London 
Unitarian quarterly meeting had professed itself virtually unanimous in 
the belief that revivals were the result of "direct and immediate agency 
of the Holy Spirit." 2 

When a year had passed, the leaders of the Fulton Street meeting con- 
ducted an anniversary service at which numerous clergymen testified to 
the fact that unity in evangelism had routed sectarian controversy. The 
venerable Methodist Nathan Bangs joined many others in declaring that 
he had "laid aside the polemic armour." He had determined to preach 
"principally upon experimental and practical religion" and to join in fellow- 
ship with every man who would share that theme. The great question was, 
Bangs declared: 

Interest (Boston, 1858), a hearty approbation, received a friendly review in The Watch- 
man and Reflector, Apr. 29, 1858. 

88 The Christian Register, Apr. 3, 1858. 

"The Methodist Quarterly Review, XUI (I860), p. 312. Cf. Theodore Tebbetts, "Re- 
vivals, Past and Present," The Monthly Religions Magazine, XIX (1858), pp. 333, 335-36, 
with similar ideas in Richard Pike, "Times of Refreshing," in the same volume, pp. 273- 
78; James Freeman Clarke, "The Revival," the same, pp. 343-51; and those in a 
sermon by Henry W. Bellows, Universalist pastor in New York, reviewed in The Christian 
Register, March 27, 1858, p. 2. 

Less enthusiastic were Solon W. Bush, The Revival* A Sermon Preached at The First 
Congregational Church, Medfield . . . (Dedham, 1858), pp. 7-8, 13; William Henry 
Ryder, Religion and the Present Revival A Sermon (Boston, 1858), pp. 8, 10. 



Shall this revival continue? I think it may continue and it ought to continue. 
It depends upon the fidelity of the people of God whether it will or not. If 
the professors of religion ... fix their minds upon the mark ... of holiness of 
heart, of life, and of conversation, . . . [the Lord Jesus] certainly will not 
forsake His church, but will continue to pour out His spirit more and more 
abundantly. 30 

Perhaps his generation was disappointed. But to a modem observer these 
hopes seem to have been amply fulfilled. 

Very little reaction against revival methods appeared as the excitement 
of the "year of wonders" passed away. Union city-wide campaigns became 
a familiar part of American church life. Unusual ones occurred during the 
war at Boston and Fall River, Massachusetts; Portland, Maine; Utica, Troy, 
and Brooklyn, New York; Evansville, Indiana; and Montreal, Canada. 81 
The columns of the religious press remained as filled as ever with news of 
revivals, and responsible churchmen turned out a score of guidebooks to 
instruct pastors and laymen in winning souls. 82 Reports of extensive 
awakenings in Europe during 1859 seemed to American evangelicals an 
extension and in some sense a validation of the Spirit's work begun here. 83 

Chief reapers in the whitened harvest fields were the evangelists, whose 
special usefulness now secured more general recognition. Jacob Knapp, 
deeply humbled by the honor, returned to Boston in 1860 for meetings 

80 Chambers, op. dt., pp. 247-48 and passim. 

81 Samuel Irenaeus Prime, Five Years of Prayer, with the Answers (New York, 1864), 
pp. 29-45, passim; The Watchman and Reflector, March 26 and Apr. 9, 1863; P. C. Head- 
ley, ed., The Harvest Work of the Holy Spirit, Illustrated in the Evangelistic Labors of 
Rev. Edward Pay son Hammond (Boston, 1862), pp. 226-30. 

82 The American Tract Society published Horatius Bonar, Words to the Winners of 
Souls (Boston, ca. 1859), for pastors, and Humphrey, op. cit. The Congregational Board 
of Publication reprinted Ebenezer Porter's Letters on the Religious Revivals Which Pre- 
vailed About the Beginning of the Present Century (Boston, 1858). Harvey Newcomb, 
The Harvest and the Reapers; Home Work for All, and How to Do It (Boston, 1858), 
received favorable comment in the Baptist Christian Review, XXIV (1859), p. 153, as did 
Horatius Bonar, God's Way to Peace: a Rook for the Anxious (New York, 1862), the 
same, XXVII (1862), p. 347. 

Somewhat later appeared Henry C. Fish, Handbook of Revivals: for the Use of Winners 
of Souls (Boston, 1874); Francis Wayland, Salvation By Christ (Boston, 1859); Edward 
N. Kirk's lectures on revivals given at Andover in 1866 and 1867, as well as numbers of 
his evangelistic sermons, such as The Waiting Saviour (Boston, 1865); and Albert Barnes, 
The Way of Salvation (Philadelphia, 1863), one of many variations of his famous sermon 
of 1829. Thomas Guthrie, Speaking to the Heart; or Sermons for the People (New York, 
1863), exemplifies the contribution of several English preachers to this kind of literature. 

** William Gibson, The Year of Grace; a History of the Revival in Ireland, A.D. J859 
(Boston, 1860), 'Introduction" by Baron Stow, passim; Prime, Five Years of Prayer, chs. 



which were held first at the Baldwin Street Baptist Church, then for ten 
weeks nightly at the Union Church, Merrimac Street, and, finally, five 
weeks at Tremont Temple. In the years immediately following, Knapp 
appeared at the Wabash Avenue Church, Chicago; Second Baptist Church, 
Wilmington; Fourth Baptist Church, Philadelphia; and various ones in 
Newark and Trenton. At his meeting in New York City in 1866 every 
Baptist pastor professed to have been converted in a revival. 34 Edward Norris 
Kirk continued to spend part of each year conducting evangelistic cam- 
paigns, notably at Mt. Holyoke College, where he headed the Board of 
Trustees from 1858 until the time of his death in 1874. Professor William 
S. Tyler later recalled several remarkable awakenings under Kirk's ministry 
there. In the winter of 1863-64, for example, a four-day flood tide of 
emotion swept eighty-five students into salvation. 35 Charles G. Finney and 
Dr. and Mrs. Walter Palmer, who conducted evangelistic meetings in 
Europe in the years immediately following 1858, were swamped when they 
returned with more calls than they could accept. Emerson Andrews, James 
Caughey, and Heman Humphrey likewise shared the increased prestige of 
the older group of soul winners. 36 

Meanwhile, public attention was shifting to a new generation. Edward 
Payson Hammond, a graduate of Williams College who had served as a 
student volunteer worker in New York during the revival of 1858, re- 
turned in 1861 from two years' study at Free Church College, Glasgow. 
The news of his successful revivals in Scotland had preceded him to New 
England. There his success was immediate, first at Salem Street Congrega- 
tional Church, Boston, where one hundred professed conversion, and then 
at the Second Parish Church, Portland, where a month of his preaching 
ignited a series of major religious conflagrations in Maine. The Rev. Paul 
A. Chadbourne a professor of natural history at Bowdoin College who was 
later to be president in turn of the University of Wisconsin, Williams Col- 
lege, and the Massachusetts Agricultural College assisted Hammond in the 
several weeks' meeting at Bath. He counted as many as six hundred in the 
inquiry room there at one time. News of the Maine awakenings gave 

84 Jacob Knapp, Autobiography . . . (New York, 1868), pp. 175-79. See pp. 164, 181- 
82, 184, 186. 

85 David O. Mears, life of Edward Noms JCtrfe, D.D. (Boston, 1877), pp. 340-41; c. 
pp. 338, 347-48, 352-53. See also anon., The Power of Christum Benevolence Illustrated 
in the Life and Labors of Mary Lyon (New York, 1858), pp. 244, 249, 255-56. 

M Charles G. Finney, Memoirs . . . (New York, 1876), pp. 473-75; Andrews, oy. dt., 
pp. 101, 104; George Hughes, The Beloved Physician, Walter C. Palmer, Jr. ... (New 
York, 1884), p. 221; P. C. Headley, Evangelists in the Church . . . (Boston, 1875), p. 294. 



Hammond a national reputation and brought him invitations to conduct 
union campaigns in Montreal, New York, and other Eastern cities. 37 

Among Baptists the new figure was A, B. Earle of Boston, chief leader 
in the general awakening at Fall River in 1863. Earle, who avoided both 
sectarianism and sensationalism, spent most of his time after 1860 in inter- 
denominational campaigns in which he stressed the Finney-Methodist 
doctrine of sanctification. 88 Alfred Cookman and John S. Inskip were chief 
among a score of young Methodist evangelists devoted to the same theme. 
The group included the colorful William Taylor, fresh from seven years' 
pioneer street preaching in California, Taylor launched his career in the 
East with numerous Methodist meetings conducted during the excitement 
of 1858. 39 Such men made America revival conscious, preparing the way 
for the evangelistic giants of a later day, Dwight L. Moody, Reuben A. 
Torrey, and J. Wilbur Chapman. 

Meanwhile, religious assemblies and publications defended revivals 
much more strongly than in the previous decade. In 1863, for example, 
when the Rev. Robert Aikman addressed the Presbyterian Synod of New 
York and New Jersey on the "Relations of the Ministry to Revivals of 
Religion," he recognized no differences of opinion about them save on the 
question of whether professional evangelists were preferable to neighboring 
pastors. It was the "high and sacred duty" of every preacher, he declared, 
to learn how best to plan and promote them. 40 Even the conservative 
American Theological Review praised Heman Humphrey in 1859. The 
Evangelical Quarterly Review, long silent on the issue so divisive in 
Lutheran circles, printed in 1856 a Hartwick Seminary professor's strong 
defense and exposition of measures to secure mass conversions. A prominent 
Baptist minister reported at the end of the Civil War that the traditional 
antipathy to revivals in his denomination had completely disappeared, the 

"Headley, Hammond, pp. 41-61, 76-216, passim, 218-19, 226-30, 246-47, 250-89. The 
Independent, Jan. 1 and 8, 1863; The Watchman and Reflector, Jan. 8, 1863. The sketch 
of Chadbourne's career in The Dictionary of American Biography is by Frederick Tucker- 

"Absalom B. Earle, Bringing In Sheaves (Boston, 1869), pp. 38-62, 89-107, 269-80. 
Cf. The Watchman and Reflector, March 26, 1863. 

89 William Taylor, Seven Years' Street Preaching in San Francisco . . . (New York, 

40 Robert Aikman, The Relations of the Ministry to Revivals of Religion . . . (New 
York, 1863), pp. 13, 15 and passim. 

On professionalism see The Independent, Dec. 23, 1858, and the issue of Jan. 8, 1863, 
responding to criticism of E. P. Hammond from The Presbyterian Banner. 



acceptability of pastors to large city congregations now resting frequently 
on their ability to conduct them. 41 

It is not surprising, perhaps, that holy pandemonium still broke out 
occasionally at Methodist camp meetings. But it is intriguing to find the 
editor of a Unitarian magazine writing, upon his return from one of them, 
"how much more efficient is the Word when free from the restraints of 
primness and formality, in brealdng up the fountains of the heart and 
convincing and converting souls." In commenting on the absence of fervent 
prayer at a large Disciples of Christ camp meeting in the Western Reserve, 
Henry Ward Beecher's paper, The Independent, praised its leaders for 
realizing that in doing away with the mourner s bench entirely, they had 
carried their reaction against emotionalism to "a dangerous extreme"! 42 

The greatest leaders in New England Congregationalism swung their 
support to revivals with similar enthusiasm. In 1861 the learned Henry 
Martyn Dexter, editor of the Congregational Quarterly, rejoiced that his 
denomination's loose organization, freedom from liturgy, and emphasis 
upon lay initiative uniquely fitted it to promote them. The previous year 
a prominent pastor cast the mantle of historic sanctity about them with an 
article on the revival spirit of the Pilgrims. 43 The National Congregational 
Council which met in Boston during June, 1865, issued a call for "revivals 
of religion in our churches and colleges . . . deep and powerful in their 
effects." Without them, it declared, the church could never produce a 
ministry "steeped in devout affection, and consecrated by the baptism and 
rich indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God." 44 The Puritan City's answer 
was to engage A. B. Earle, then concluding a highly successful campaign in 
nearby Chelsea, for a city-wide effort the next spring. 45 

Among the twelve sermons which the Boston Council recommended for 

41 The American Theological Review, I (1859), pp. 698-708; Levi Steinberg, ''Revivals," 
The Evangelical Quarterly Review, XV (1864), pp. 278-79, 281-84. C. R. Jewry's state- 
ment in Jacob Knapp, op, cit., p. ix, with The Watchman and Reflector, Apr. 9, 1863. 

41 The Monthly Religious Magazine, XXIV (I860), p. 297; The Independent, Jan. 13, 
1859, p. 2. The account o a Tennessee Methodist camp meeting in The Watchman and 
Reflector, Feb. 5, 1863, pp. 1-2, may be overdrawn, but cf. Zion's Herald, Nov. 17, 1852. 

48 Henry M. Dexter, "Congregationalism Specially Adapted to Promote Revivals of 
Religion," The Congregational Quarterly, III (1861), pp. 52-58; Joseph S. Clark, "A 
Lesson from the Past: The Revival Spirit of the Pilgrims," the same, n (I860), pp. 404- 
08. See also Erdix Tenney, "A True Revival of Religion," the same (1862), pp. 241-46. 

44 "Official Record of the National Council at Boston, June, A.D., 1865," The Congre- 
gational Quarterly, VII (1865), pp. 323, 325; cf. pp. 343-45. 

48 For a sharply critical account, see Charles K. Whipple, "The Boston Revival, and Its 
Leader," The Radical: A Monthly Magazine Devoted to Religton, I (1865-66), pp. 429-38, 



lay reading that winter was one by the Rev, John E. Todd answering the 
question, "Are Revivals Desirable?" He began thus: 

It is too late to discuss this question. As well might we discuss the desirable- 
ness of summer showers. It is evident that they are a part, and a blessed part 
of the Divine administration. . . . Whatever of life and earnestness there is in 
any of our churches has originated in and been fed by revivals. Most of those 
who have been redeemed . . . were converted in revivals; almost every faithful 
minister of the Gospel and missionary has traced his conversion to a revival. 46 

The evangelistic methods of the 1850's were institutionalized in two 
national organizations, the Y.M.C.A. and its wartime offspring, the United 
States Christian Commission. Charles Howard Hopkins's recent illumina- 
tion of the fervently religious orientation of the mid-century Y.M.C.A. 
leaves insufficiently stressed only one point its intimate bond with the 
churches. Leading ministers participated in *T" affairs at all levels. Con- 
temporaries seem never to have regarded the organization's union prayer 
meetings, visitation evangelism directed toward unchurched young men, 
or the annual tent-meeting revival efforts which it sponsored in Boston, 
Philadelphia, and many other cities as anything other than a united 
expression of the soul-winning fervor of evangelical Protestantism. 47 

This held particularly true of the Christian Commission. Although 
George H. Stuart, an active Y.M.C.A. leader, served as its president, he 
would have been surprised at any who thought him not a stanch church- 
man. Edmund Storer Janes, senior bishop of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, was an original and effective member of the small executive board. 
William E. Boardman, a New School Presbyterian minister and author 
of the recent perfectionist volume, The Higher Christian Life, became 
executive secretary early in the war and organized the Commission's work. 
Many of the 1,375 clergymen who served as volunteer "delegates" to the 
army camps were Methodists. Among the important leaders were earnest 
revivalists like Alfred Cookman, C. C. McCabe, Edward N. Kirk, and 
Dwight L. Moody. 48 

48 John E. Todd, Revivals of Religion (Addresses to Church Members Try the Congre- 
gational Pastors of Boston, Recommended by the Boston Congregational Council No. 6, 
Boston, 1866), pp. 3, 4. 

"Hopkins, op. dt. f pp. 18, 26-27, 45-47. Of. Y.M.C.A., Baltimore, Proceedings of the 
All-Day Prayer Meeting . . . September 27, 1859 (Baltimore, 1859), pp. 3-4; and Boston 
Y.M.C.A., Annual Report , . . May, 1866, pp. 15-16. 

"Lemuel Moss, Annals of The United States Christian Commission (Philadelphia, 



The Mending of concern for the physical and the spiritual needs of the 
soldiers in the Commission's activities was similar to that directed toward 
the urban poor after 1856. The primary goal was, of course, the conver- 
sion of souls. Personal witnessing, tract distribution, preaching services, 
and camp revivals were simply more obvious means to this end than pro-' 
viding books and magazines for camp libraries, giving medical care to the 
wounded, or writing letters home for the hospitalized and supplying food 
for men in prison. Agents reported the latter activities principally in 
terms of their power to win converts from among those previously 
skeptical of Christianity's practical social compassion. 49 The extent of 
the Commission's success is difficult to measure, but in any event, by 
1865 the revival in the armed forces was a major interest of the times. 50 

Churchmen in the North remained oblivious to the awakening going 
on at the same time in the Southern armies. Missionaries and book agents 
of the Evangelical Tract Society and the Bible Society of the Con- 
federate States joined with scores representing various denominational 
organizations and hundreds of pastors serving on their own to fan the 
flames of religious anxiety which broke out in the Army of Northern 
Virginia early in the war. Interest soon spread through all the Confederate 
forces. Dr. Moses D. Hodge of Richmond helped to bring in past the 
Union blockade thousands of copies of the Bible and Gospel portions all 
gifts of the British and Foreign Bible Society. Christian officers like Stone- 
wall Jackson heartily co-operated. 51 

Particularly during the period between the battles at Fredericksburg 

1868), pp. 67, 76, 106, 116-17, 130-31. Cf. Mary M. Boardman (Mrs. Win. E.) Life 
and Labours of the Rev. W. E. Boardman (New York, 1887), pp. 119-20; Hopkins, 
op. tit., pp. 89-94; Mears, op. cit., pp. 300-305; and William Warren Sweet, The Methodist 
Episcopal Church and the Civil War, pp. 149, 162-65. 

** See especially Boardman's chapters in Christ in the Army: a Selection of Sketches of 
the Work of the U. S. Christian Commission (Philadelphia, 1865), pp. 1-16, 23-46, and 
testimonies and accounts of revivals, pp. 59, 62-63, 82-83, 97, 107-12, Cf. Boston Y.M.C.A., 
Annual Report . . . 1864, pp. 39-40; Hopkins, op. tit., p. 94; Mary M. Boardman, op, cit., 
pp. 123-25; and Moss, op. cit., pp. 91-93. 

M. Hamlin Cannon, "The United States Christian Commission," The Mississippi 
Valley Historical Review, XXXVTII (1951-52), pp. 61-80, omits any mention of Boardman 
and, p. 67, deprecates revivalistic fervor. 

60 "The United States Christian Commission," The Evangelical Quarterly Review, XVI 
(1865), pp. 266-71; "The United States Christian Commission," The Baptist Quarterly, 
H (1868), pp. 194-227. 

51 W. W. Bennett, A Narrative of the Great Revival which Prevailed in the Southern 
Armies . . . (Philadelphia, 1877), pp. 46-48, 51-52, 68-70, 74-77, 251-362, 368, and 
passim; John William Jones, Christ in the Camp} or, Religion in Lee's Army (Richmond, 
1887), pp. 50-51, 89, 148-51. 



and Chancellorsville Confederate prayer meetings and open-air revivals 
multiplied. The Rev. Enoch Marvin, later a bishop in the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, South, initiated in an Arkansas force the first regi- 
mental "Army Church/' in which membership was open to men of all 
evangelical persuasions. Since both war and spiritual fervor made sectarian 
lines seem less important, the idea spread through the whole army. 
Enthusiasts estimated 150,000 converts in all. 52 

The revivalistic, missionary Christianity predominant in the South since 
1875 owes much to this wartime awakening. Certainly that section had 
not experienced the flood tide which earlier engulfed the Northern 
churches. Rather, in the decades immediately preceding the war, Old 
School Presbyterian, Old Lutheran and Antimission Baptist sentiments 
had claimed a wide allegiance from men who favored slavery or wished 
to dodge the issues which it raised. 53 

Thus did the symphony of salvation fill the atmosphere of American 
Christianity from the days when its first thundering notes awakened the 
nation to the wonders of 1858. To the irreligious, still a large minority of 
the population, the rendition must have seemed a painful farce. Few 
contemporaries, however, could ignore the spell which revivalism had 
cast upon the minds of the masses. Nor could any clergyman overlook the 
revolution in thought and practice which, as we shall see, the new 
fervor had wrought in Protestant religion. Far from rejecting material and 
social progress in a romantic retreat to the past a mood exemplified 
by such varied figures as Brigharn Young, Herman Melville, and Bronson 
Alcott the most avid proponents of revival measures regarded them- 
selves as civilization's most indispensable agents. They were progressive 
in their theology, catholic in their sentiments, and thoroughly in tune 
with the current belief that American society must become the garden 
of the Lord. 

Church historians of a later day, anxious to make plain the origins of 
modem religious outlooks, wrote the history of the great popular sects in 
such a way as to becloud the memory of evangelism's power. They have 
made familiar the deeds of pioneers of liberal Christianity like Horace 
Bushnell, Mark Hopkins, and Washington Gladden. But we know very 
little of the lives of Albert Barnes, George B. Cheever, Samuel S. 

J*r tt T T t v **?*?*>%*> 36 H 6; Jones ' <* *' 223-24, 312-53, 390-91, 
and pastil* Jolm SLepard, Jr., "Religion in die Army o Northern Virginia," The North 
Carolina Historical Review, XXV (1948), pp. 367, 369. 
58 Contrast Shepaid, iH&, pp. 350, 356, 365-66. 



Schmucker, Robert Baird, Stephen H. Tyng, Edward N. Klrlc, and 
William E. Boardman men who seemed to their contemporaries die 
most distinguished spiritual leaders of the age. Methodists Matthew 
Simpson and Phoebe Palmer have recently escaped anonymity; but after 
one hundred years, Charles G. Finney awaits a biographer, and Frederic 
Dan Huntington remains UnitariamWs forgotten man. 54 Little wonder 
that today's thoughtful clergyman considers the evangelistic and perfec- 
tionist traditions which all these in some manner represented to be perennial 
obstructions to human progress. 

Secular historians, meanwhile, have paid more attention to bizarre 
groups like the Shakers, Mormons, and Millerites than to the Methodists 
and Baptists. 55 Even Alice Felt Tylers book, Freedom's Ferment, which 
elaborately illustrates how pious enthusiasm nurtured the spirit of reform, 
devotes only one chapter to evangelical religion while assigning seven 
to "cults and Utopias." Charles C. Cole's fine treatment of The Social 
Ideas of the Northern Evangelists chops the narrative off at the point 
where its most significant developments begin. 56 The myth persists that 
revivalism is but a half-breed child of the Protestant faith, born on the 
crude frontier, where Christianity was taken captive by the wilderness. 
The triumphs of Billy Graham, in prim Boston and ancient Oxford no 
less than in adolescent Los Angeles, point to another interpretation. 

**Earle Morse Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism in Transylvania, England, and 
America (Cambridge, 1952), does not mention Huntington. Wade Crawford Barclay, 
Early American Methodism, 1769-1844 . . . (New York, 1949), ignores Mrs. Palmer, but 
c. John L. Peters, Christian Perfection and American Methodism (New York, 1956}, 
pp. 109-13, and Robert D. Clark, Life of Matthew Simpson (New York, 1956). 

55 See, for example, Merle Curti, The Growth of American Thought (2nd. ed., New 
York, 1951), pp. 306-13; and Whitney R. Cross, The Burned-Over District} the Social and 
Intellectual History of Enthusiastic Religion in Western New York, 1800-1850 (Ithaca, 
N. Y., 1950). 

" Alice K Tyler, freedom's Ferment: Phases of American Social History to 1860 
(Minneapolis, 1944); and Cole, op. cit. t pp. 221-27, 238. 



The Fruits of Fervor 

The mid-century revivals brought to a climax four funda- 
mental changes in the inner life of American Protestantism. The tradi- 
tional predominance of the clergy in the spiritual and organizational work 
of the churches now gave place rapidly to the enthusiastic expansion of 
lay participation and control. The spirit of interdenominational brother- 
hood, which had struggled for survival ever since its beginning in the 
crusade to Christianize the West after 1800, came swiftly to maturity 
and caught the imagination of the greatest churchmen in the land. Ethical 
concerns replaced dogmatic zeal in evangelical preaching and writing. And, 
equally important, Arminian views crowded out Calvinism in much of 
the dogma which remained. 

The increased wealth and education of lay persons was, to be sure, an 
important factor in their rise to religious leadership. Time and money 
for study and cultural refinement brought many men whose fathers sat 
in awe of the learned clergy to a feeling of social and intellectual equality. 
Many successful businessmen invested their new resources in such useful 
ways that they inevitably gained a larger voice in church counsels. They paid 
the bills for the fine new church buildings which adorned the better neigh- 
borhoods. In the large cities, therefore, the congregational system of church 
government began to fulfill its democratic promise, and Methodist laymen 
staked out new claims on territory which the preachers had long occupied 
alone. 1 

A more important bulwark of the minister's sovereignty, however, had 
been his supposed spiritual eminence. In the free atmosphere of the 
great revivals, where the Holy Spirit bestowed his gifts without respect 
of persons, this mystic monopoly, too, was done away. Prayer-meeting 

*See Abel Stevens, "Letter to Bishop Simpson," The "National Magazine, VH (1855), 
pp. 75-85; and The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXXIII (1853), pp. 323-28. For later 
debate see Abel Stevens, "Methodism: Suggestions Appropriate to Its Present Condition," 
the same, XLE (1860), pp. 129-32, and Francis Hodgson, "Lay Representation/' the same, 
pp. 228-44. 



testimonies now ranked with sermons in converting souls, often above 
them. Many pastors stared Francis Wayland's discovery at Providence 
in 1858 that a permanent system of apportioning to laymen responsibility 
for the spiritual care of families in a parish would yield excellent results. 
Only the Methodists, through their class leaders and local preachers, had 
theretofore exploited this possibility. Even conservative clergymen plunged 
into Sunday-school visitation crusades, Y.M.C.A. tent revivals, and Chris- 
tian Commission rallies where the unordained helped to usher in the 
dispensation of the Spirit. The old-time evangelist, who had invaded single- 
handedly the precincts of Satan, now gave way to a team of influential 
clergymen and practical businessmen, who advertised and engaged the 
preacher for the moment made propitious by their months of careful effort. 2 

Ever since Charles G. Finney had generated among the people the 
support which ministers had denied him for Oberlin College and other 
benevolent ventures, revival men had encouraged this trend. Samuel S. 
Schmucler rejoiced that talented and spiritual laymen had conducted a 
large share of the business at the General Synod of Lutherans which 
united their church in 1853. Benjamin Kurtz at his institute in Selinsgrove, 
Pennsylvania, seems to have aimed at training Lutheran men for roles 
analogous to those of Methodism's local preachers. 8 

When the good Baptist, Henry Clay Fish, caught the vision of a nation- 
wide awakening, he did not hesitate to point to the Methodists, as well 
as to the New Testament church, as exemplars of the power of a soul- 
winning laity. Mrs. Phoebe Palmer was the author of a widely read tract 
entitled "A Laity for the Times," first published in 1857 in the New 
York Christian Advocate and Journal. It urged church members to take 
the lead in the crusade of personal evangelism. 4 Two years after the 
awakening of 1858 had demonstrated the soundness of this program, a 
conservative Lutheran editor hailed the "modern era of revivals, missions, 

8 James O. Murray, Francis Wayland, (Boston, 1891), pp. 132-34; "What Can I Do for 
Christ," The Independent, Jan. 20, 1859. 

* Charles G. Finney, Memoirs . . . (New York, 1876), pp. 336-37, 344-45; Samuel 
S. Schmucker, The Peace of Zion: a Discourse Preached "before the General Synod of the 
Evangelical Lutheran Church . . . (Gettysburg, 1853), p. 4; R. Weiser, "A Want in the 
Lutheran Church Met by the Founding of the Missionary Institute," The Evangelical 
Quarterly Review, X (1858-59), p. 345. 

4 Henry C. Fish, Primitive Piety Revived . . . (Boston, 1857), pp. 209-30, passim-, 
Richard Wheatley, Life and Letters of Mrs. Phoebe Palmer (New York, 1876), pp. 
554-57; The Guide to Holiness, XXXH (1857-58), pp. 174-75. 



and benevolent institutions" for bringing consecrated laymen to their 
rightful position in the church. 8 

The usefulness of women to an emotionally awakened Christianity, a 
fact obvious to every evangelist after Finney, illustrates another aspect of 
the growth of lay activity. The co-educational experiment at Oberlin was 
too far in advance of the times to set a pattern as yet, but it did demon- 
strate a new attitude. Even here, however, girls were discouraged from 
preparing for the ministry, despite the fact that revivalistic churches like 
the Freewill Baptists and later the Wesleyan Methodists sometimes 
ordained them. 6 More influential was the example which Mrs. Palmer 
and the second Mrs. Finney set in the immensely successful testimony 
and prayer meetings which each held in connection with her husband's 
campaigns. Both encouraged women to participate in gospel work, under- 
cutting the usual antifeminist objections by quoting the apostle Peter's 
words at Pentecost: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, 
I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your 
daughters shall prophesy" (Acts 2:17). 

This, at any rate, was the biblical basis for the solid book Phoebe Palmer 
published in 1858, Promise of the Father; or a Neglected Specialty of 
the Last Days, which established woman's religious rights on the authority 
of the Holy Spirit. She had discussed the manuscript at some length with 
Harriet Beecher Stowe and Francis Wayland and dedicated the book to 
the Philadelphia Episcopalian pastor, Dudley A. Tyng! 7 That same year 
when the businessmen's noonday prayer meetings were thrown open to 
the ladies, social acceptance of their new role, though by no means 
complete, was in the long run assured. A glance at the reports of the 
dozens of religious-humanitarian enterprises operating in New York by 

6 "The Prayer Meeting," The Evangelical Quarterly Review, XII (1860-61), p. 106. Cf. 
A. P. Marvin, "Three Eras of Revivals in The United States," Rihliotheca Sacra, XVI 
(1859), p. 292. 

* See William Hurlin, "The Free Will Baptists; Their History and Doctrines," The 
Christian Review, XXVII (1862), p. 566; Rohert S. Fletcher, A History of Oherlin Col- 
lege; from Its Foundation through the Civil War (Oberlin, 1943), I, pp. 291-93; and, for 
the United Brethren, A. W. Drury, History of the Church of the United Brethren in 
Christ (Dayton, Ohio, 1924), pp. 424-26. 

Wesleyan Academy, Wilhraham Connecticut, was co-educational from its founding in 
1825; see George Prentice, Wilbur Fisk (Boston, 1890), pp. 64-65, 72. 

T Phoehe Palmer, Promise of the Father . . . (Boston, 1859); Wheatley, op. tit., pp. 
336, 606-07, 611, 613 ff.; Finney, oy. cit., pp. 285, 412-13, 438, 443, 456. 



the end of the Civil War removes all doubt that a women's corps had at 
last been organized to "stand up for Jesus" in the army of the Lord. 8 

A soul-winning laity understandably cared less than ministers about 
dogmatic distinctions between the sects. New York City and Brooklyn 
laymen who protested the disruption of the New School-Congregationalist 
Plan of Union argued that the two churches were "essentially united" on 
"a sound common orthodoxy, evangelical sentiments, and revivals, and 
missions, in the hands of the Holy Spirit, for the conversion of the 
world." 9 Revivalists were likewise foremost among those clergymen who 
abandoned feuding among themselves in favor of a united front against 
the devil. All of the principal advocates of the Evangelical Alliance were 
evangelists. Edward Norris Kirk, Samuel S. Schmucker, Robert Baird, 
Emerson Andrews, Lyman Beecher, and Methodists Stephen Olin, George 
Peck, and Abel Stevens attended the fruitless London conference in 1846. 
They joined laymen of a similar outlook in promoting the Bible, tract, 
and home mission societies. Inevitably, like Finney, such men emphasized 
the saving simplicities of the gospel, stressed compassion over creeds, and 
regretted more and more the weakness which internal dissension brought 
to Christianity. 10 

In 1850 a Methodist pastor wrote in his denominational quarterly that 
"the present division of Christians for opinion's sake" was a sin. He 
declared it his belief that all the bishops were "deeply interested" in 
the, growing movement for church union. The catholicity of both 
Wesley's work and doctrine was, he asserted, the example all Methodists 

9 Henry Cammann and H. N. Camp, The Charities of New York, Brooklyn and 
Staten Island, (New York, 1868), passim; New York City Tract Society, Thirty-Sixth 
Annual Report. . . . J862, pp. 63-68. Cf. W. W. Bennett, A Narrative of the Great 
Revival which Prevailed in the Southern Armies . , . (Philadelphia, 1877), pp. 55-60; 
Joseph Belcher, The Religious Denominations in The United States . , . (Philadelphia, 
1857), p. 539; and, for a typical objection, "Ought Women to Keep Silence in Religious 
Meetings," The Watchman and Reflector, Oct. 28, 1858, and its response in the issues for 
Nov. 18 and 25. 

8 An Earnest Plea of Laymen of the New School Presbyterian and Congregational 
Churches of New York and Brooklyn . . . (New York, 1856), p. 5; cf. pp. 6, 8, 9. 

10 Cf. Emerson Andrews, Living Life; or Autobiography . . . (Boston, 1875), pp. 72-76; 
Julia M. Olin, The Life and Letters of Stephen Olin, D.D., L.L.D. (New York, 1853), H, 
pp. 275-320, passim^ Stephen Olin, Works (New York, 1860), H, pp. 466-75; Samuel S. 
Schmucker, fraternal Appeal to the. American Churches, vnth a Plan for Catholic Union, 

on Apostolic Principles (New York, 1839), passim; P. C. Headley, Evangelists in the Church. 
Philip, AD. 35, to Moody and Sankey, AJD. 1875 (Boston, 1875), p. 257; Robert Baird, 
The Progress and Prospects of Christianity . . . (London, 1851), pp. 26-27, 44; Charles 
Adams, Evangelism in the Middle of the Nineteenth Century . . . (Boston, 1851), p. 21; 
George O. Peck, Our Country: Its Trial and Its Triumph . . . (New York, 1865), p. 34. 



should follow. 11 Soon after, the bishops of the Episcopal Church as well 
as the Old School newspaper, The New York Observer, issued calls 
for the immediate union of all denominations one, of course, from the 
traditionalist, hut the other from the evangelical point of view. In 1854 
Philip Schaff reported that "the nohlest and most pious minds in America" 
deeply disapproved of the "sect spirit." 12 The Rev. Dexter A. Clapp ob- 
served at a Unitarian ordination service in 1856 that "the days of theological 
difference and separation" seemed to be drawing to a close. Controversial 
zeal and practical godliness were no longer spiritual synonyms. "Love of the 
heart" outranked intellectual belief. A "new and vital faith" which em- 
phasized simply "the divine incarnation and human regeneration" was, he 
believed, "spreading in our Christian community, and beyond us in the 
wide world." 1S 

It is perhaps ironic that the revivals which he and other Unitarians 
once detested were to bring to flower in 1858 the spirit of tolerance they 
loved. The union visitation crusades and noonday prayer meetings bathed 
America's churches in a transfiguring illumination of brotherly love. 
Hundreds of clergymen whose vision for the salvation of souls had been 
confined to the borders of their own denomination discovered new horizons 
on the mount of blessings. 

Many considered that the absence of sectarian bigotry was the chief 
characteristic distinguishing this from previous revivals, though one 
thoughtful observer remarked, "this spirit of union has been growing for 
years, and has only gained a fresh development at the present time." 14 
At the height of the awakening George Peck, recent editor of The 
Christian Advocate and Journal and The Methodist Quarterly Review, 
summoned prominent New York ministers and laymen to a meeting to 
study "means to perpetuate the present union of Christian effort" in bring- 

11 Charles Adams, "Wesley the Catholic," The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXXII 
(1850), pp. 177-78, 191; cf. the same author's Essay on Christian Union (New York, 
1850), passim. 

"Philip Schaff, America . . . (New York, 1855), p. 119; "Overtures for Christian 
Union," The Puritan Recorder, Jan. 1, 8, 15, and 22, 1857; Benjamin B. Tyler, A. C. 
Thomas and others, A History of the Disciples of Christ, the Society of Friends, the United 
Brethren in Christ and the Evangelical Association CPhilip Schaff and others, eds., The 
American Church History Series, XII, New York, 1894), p. 801. 

18 The Monthly Religious Magazine, XV (1856), pp. 50-51. 

" A. P. Marvin, "Three Eras of Revivals in The United States," Zoc. cit. f p. 292. See 
earlier pp. 70-72. Cf. James W. Alexander, The Revival and Its Lessons . . . (New York, 
1858), p. 11; A. de Gasparin, The Uprising of a Great People . . . (New York, 1861), 
p. 67. 



ing religious services within reach of the poor. Baron Stow, a Baptist 
pastor in Boston, thought the year suitable for publishing his antisectarian 
book, Christian Brotherhood, a manuscript he had withheld since 1842. 15 
In^the following decade, Y.M.CA's and Christian Commission units, 
union prayer meetings, and city-wide revivals joined in proclaiming the 
triumph of interchurch accord. J. M. Sturtevant, president of Illinois 
College, wrote in The New Englander in 1860 that in the work of Chris- 
tian collegiate education 

the very spirit and principle of denominationalism must be abjured. ... We 
must found them upon a broad and comprehensive platform o Evangelical 
Faith. We must cooperate in sustaining them as Christians, and not as Sec- 
tarians. . . . We must esteem them as precious, not as instruments of aggrandiz- 
ing our Denomination, but as blessings to our country, to mankind, and to the 
distant future. 19 

The notion that revivalism coincided with bigotry in nineteenth-century 
Christianity must yield to the contrary facts. In denominations where 
participation in co-operative religious work became an issue, it was the 
opponents of revivals who held out stubbornly for the narrower path 
Old School Presbyterians, High Church Episcopalians, and Confessional 
Lutherans. 17 Historians must look elsewhere for the sources of the rampant 
sectarianism of the 1890's to such factors and conditions as the statistical 
competition incited when business methods were applied to church affairs, 
the quest of the insecure for identity with a group ego, or the search for 
dogmatic antidotes to the new learning. The last was a bitter potion which 
had at first been sweetened by mixture with a diluted form of the common 
evangelical creed. It is true that at the end of the century liberal theology 
and social Christianity replenished the dying stream of interdenominational 
harmony. But its headwaters were the springs of brotherly zeal which broke 
forth in the generation of Robert Baird and A. B. Earle. 

Interfaith fellowship gained strength in many quarters from the new 
stress upon common ethical principles about which no ancient controversies 

18 William C. Conant, Narratives of Remarkable Conversions and Revival Incidents . . . 
(New York, 1858), pp. 411-12; JoKn C. Stockbridge, A Memoir of the Life and Cor- 
respondence of Rev. Baron Stow, D.D. (Boston, 1871), p. 264. Cf. Georges Fisch, Nine 
Months in The United States . , . CLondon, 1863), pp. 23, 37-57, passim. 

16 J. M. Sturtevant, "Denominational Colleges," The New Englander, XVHI (I860), 
p. 87. 

17 For moderate criticism see J. Few Smith, "Denominationalism, Not Sectarian," The 
American Theological R&view, U (1860-61), p. 319. 



had raged. From a social point of view this is the most important result 
of the mid-century awakenings. Ever since 1755, when Jonathan Mayhew 
had preached in the West Church, Boston, that "those who are really the 
subjects of Christian piety, or evangelical holiness, are the same men 
within, that they are without" liberal Christians had assailed the orthodox 
for neglecting moral themes. 18 Historians have overlooked the fact, how- 
ever, that revivalists voiced identical complaints throughout the nineteenth 
century, usually to larger and more responsive audiences. 

By the I860's, similar ethical outlooks prevailed in both camps. Compare, 
for example, the argument of a Unitarian pastor during the excitement of 
1858 that religion was not a thing to be got but a "holy life to be lived," 
whose power must be seen in "an improved daily life," a "charity that rises 
above the prejudice of caste and color," and in a "life full of holy useful- 
ness," with a contemporary description of the "modern piety" which a 
Baptist pastor thought revivals had established in the churches. "It is 
now more thoroughly understood," the latter wrote, "that the love of Christ 
in the heart will constrain the life, not merely to acts of sobriety, tem- 
perance and godliness, but to a self-sacrificing zeal in good works." 19 

Though Charles G. Finney and George B. Cheever led the way in 
applying evangelical insights to social evil, they were not alone. Henry 
Clay Fish vigorously attacked the divorce of religion and economic principle 
and urged clergymen to use the communal sharing in the early church 
at Jerusalem as an instruction to modern businessmen on how "secular 
tasks may be made sacred." The commercial classes hallowed certain times 
and places, he observed, but "not the whole of life." They consecrated 
their pews but not their counting rooms to Christ. Industry was "simply 
another and more respectable name for worldiness." 20 It was possibly 
unfair to the Methodists but nevertheless significant that other evangelicals 
often criticized them for stressing the emotional over the ethical fruits of 
religious experience. 21 

Revivalists brushed aside Theodore Parker's savage attacks on the out- 

18 Jonathan Mayhew, Sermons (Boston, 1855), p. 336. 

"Solon W. Bush, The Revival A Sermon (Dedham, 1858), p. 11; Jacob Knapp, 
Autobiography . . . (New York, 1868), p. ix. Cf. "Moral Enthusiasm/' quoted from The 
Christian Inquirer in The Watchman and Reflector, Feb. 19, 1857. 

* Fish, Primitive Piety, pp. 47-48, 61, 70, 75. CL Charles G. Finney, Lectures on 
Revivals of Religion (New York, 1898), p. 415; and George I. Rockwood, Cheever, Lincoln 
and the Causes of the Civil War (Worcester, Mass., 1936), pp. 52-53, and yossitn. 

** Knapp, op. cit., p. ix; The Christian Advocate and Journal, Tan. 18, 1855, p. 9. See 
Chaps. X-XH 



burst of 1858, but they paid sincere attention when Horace Greeleys 
New York Tribune, seconded by Harriet Beecher Stowe, inquired whether 
it would produce any greater concern for business honesty and the lot of 
the slave. 22 A thoughtful interpreter of the awakening wrote in Andover's 
Bibliotheca Sacra that its distinguishing mark was a rebuke to the love of 
riches which had stolen across America's churches and a revitalization of 
the Christian view of property. Among its supporters, even as with 
Unitarians, both criticism and praise turned, in fact, on the question of 
its effect upon practical consecration and on the elevation of both personal 
and social ethics. 23 

The new and enlarged emphasis upon the idea of Chritian love, a 
theme neatly tailored to the romantic bent of the age, was an integral part 
of this reorientation of ethical values. Its sources were devious. The advo- 
cates of Christian union had long made "brotherly love" the supreme 
virtue. 24 It was certainly the dominant emotional spark of all successful 
awakenings, particularly the interdenominational prayer meetings and 
city-wide revivals popular after 1858. Even Jonathan Edwards became a 
prophet of love to this sentimental century. The Rev. Tryon Edwards, who 
had charge of the manuscripts of his distinguished ancestor, chose to 
publish first in 1852 a series of sermons expounding I Cor. 13. 25 

A Baptist editor wrote in 1857 that there had been three types of 
Christianity in America: transcendentalism, which he called the "religion 
of dreams"; dogmatism, which ignored "active love, working faith, and 

** See the editorials in The Watchman and Reflector from March 4 to April 15, 1858, 
passim; cf. The Christian Register, April 24, 1858. 

" A. P. Marvin, 'Three Eras of Revivals in The United States/' loc. cit., pp. 293, 
296-97. C., again, earlier, pp. 70-72, with Samuel Irenaeus Prime, The Power of Prayer 
. . . (New York, 1859), pp. 184-86; Erdix Termey, "A True Revival of Religion," The 
Congregational Quarterly, IV (1862), pp. 241-46; and Gasparin, op. cit., pp. 100-101. 

a * See in Robert Baird's Christian Union and Religious Memorial, "The Loving Kind- 
ness of God," II (1849), pp. 471-73, a reprint from The New York Evangelist, and other 
articles as follows: "New Testament Teaching on the Mutual Love of Christians," I 
(1848), pp. 25-28; "Heaven the Region of Love/' the same, p. 6; "Christian Love Our 
Bond of Union," die same, p. 593; "Brotherly Love/' I, No. 11 (November, 1848), pp. 
15-16; "The Unity of the Heavenly Church," the same, pp. 17-20; "The Prominent 
Position Brotherly Love Holds in the Bible," H (1849), pp. 137-39. 

Cf., for Methodist views, Charles Adams, "Wesley die Catholic," Joe. cit., p. 191; W. 
Scott, "Remarks on I Corinthians, xiii, 9-13," The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXXII 
(1850), pp. 377, 380-82, 384; and the sermon by James V. Watson, "Love to God and 
Man Christian Union," in Davis W. Clark, ed., Methodist Episcopal Pulpit: a Collection 
of Original Sermons from Living Ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church (New York, 
1850), pp. 274-75. 

" Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits; or, Christian Love as Manifested in the 
Heart and Life (New York, 1852). 



operative benevolence"; and the one which was "of faith and works in 
the true Gospel of Jesus." That religion which "shuns the poor and 
blushes when in contact with the lowly," he declared, had failed to heed 
the Bible denunciation of those who cry "Lord, Lord" and neglect charity; 
"to reach perfection and heaven, men must walk in active love." 26 To 
those who argued that agitating the slavery issue was shattering brotherly 
ties as well as dishonoring the central evangelical theme, "Christ and Him 
crucified," George Barrell Cheever, In whose church Finney preached 
during the revival of 1858, penned a classic reply: 

But what Is it to truly preach Christ and him crucified, except to pour the 
light t>f a Saviour's sufferings and death upon men's sins, that in that light they 
may see and feel "the exceeding sinfulness of sin," their own sins, and the sins 
of the community, and be led, out of love to Christ, and for his sake, to re- 
nounce them? . . . Many are very willing to hear about Christ being crucified 
for them, who will not listen for a moment to the proposed crucifixion of their 
sins for him, especially those sins which they call organic, those that have 
the sanction and protection of human law. . . . But for what purpose was the 
gospel given, but to turn men from their iniquities, disclosing and condemning 
them in the light of the cross? 27 

Three decades of such evangelical moralizing lay back of the summary 
of Christian ethics which Mark Hopkins published in 1869 under the 
tide The Law of Love, and Love as Law. His book symbolized the 
emotional and intellectual redirection of American Christianity which 
prepared the way for a social gospel. 28 

Theologically, the new evangelical synthesis required frank abandon- 
ment of the Old Calvinism. Methodists and, to a lesser degree, Lutherans, 
Freewill Baptists, Episcopalians, Cumberland Presbyterians, Disciples of 
Christ, United Brethren, Moravians, and Winebrennerians had long 
evidenced the appeal in a Christian democratic society of the Arminian 
doctrines of free will, free grace, and unlimited hope for the conversion 

" The Watchman and Reflector, Dec. 17, 1857. Cf. Fish, op. cit., p. 130; L. P. Brockett, 
"The Relations of Christianity to Humanitarian Effort," The Methodist Quarterly Re- 
view, XL (1858), pp. 455-57, 470; and William S. Plumer, Vital Godliness: a Treatise on 
Experimental and Practical Piety (New York, 1864), pp. 375-93. 

37 George Banell Cheever, God Against Slavery: and the Freedom and Duty of the 
Pulpit to Rebuke It, as a Sin against God (New York, 1857), p. 54. Rockwood, Cheever, 
Lincoln, pp. 40-55, contains a sketch of Cheever's life. 

38 See Mark Hopkins, The Law of Love, and Love as Low . . . (New York, 1869); 
Complaints about Nehemiah Adams's revival sermon, "God is Love," in The Christian 
Review, XXIV (1859), p. 494; and later, pp. 158-61. 


of all men. 29 The view of natural ability which Nathaniel W. Taylor 
accepted in the !820's and Charles G. Finney adopted ten years later was, in 
fact, more extreme than that which Methodists held. Both Taylor and 
Finney arrived at it through their experience in revivals. By the 1840's the 
drift of Calvinists toward Armimanism and of the Orthodox toward the 
"Taylorism" they once had scorned was noticeable everywhere. The idea 
of personal predestination could hardly survive amidst the evangelists' 
earnest entreaties to "come to Jesus/' 80 

Robert Baird, for example, heatedly denied on one occasion Alexis de 
Tocqueville's verdict that American religion was less a doctrine than a 
commonly admitted opinion. Yet elsewhere Baird noted happily that the 
weight of theological conviction here was tending toward "the simplest and 
most scriptural Christianity" whose gospel was "glad tidings to all men." 81 
In New England, Arminianism progressed so rapidly among Baptists as 
nearly to destroy the raison d'etre of the Freewill group. Early in 1858 
the editors of Boston's Congregationalist answereed one of The Puritan 
Recorders many editorial assaults on their orthodoxy by declaring it doubt- 
ful "if any creed or church outside of Hard-Shell Baptists avow and defend 
all the principles of original Calvinism." Pointing to The Recorder's own 
compromises with modern thought, they asked "how far persons may adopt 
actual Arminianism" in preaching "a modified doctrine of original sin; 
a partial free will; a universal atonement; man's activity in regeneration, 
etc., etc.," and still claim to be original and thorough Calvinists. The Uni- 
tarian newspaper reported the incident with ill-concealed glee. 32 

The great revival provided those who halted between the two opinions 

a D. D. Whedon, "Doctrines of Methodism," RiUiotheca Sacra, XIX (1862), pp. 243- 
45; Adams, Evangelism, pp. 40, 46; Belcher, Religious Denominations, pp. 696-97; John 
J. Butler, Natural and Revealed Theology . . . (Dover, N. H., 1861), pp. 162-69 and 
passim (for the Freewill Baptists); Tyler and others, oy. dt. 3 pp. 121 and passim; Stephen 
H. Tyng, Lectures on the Law and the Gosyel (New York, 1848), pp. 234, 238, 243. 

80 George Duffield, "The Doctrines of the New School Presbyterian Church," BiUiotheca 
Sacra, XX (1863), pp. 608, 614; Sidney Earl Mead, Nathaniel William Taylor, 3786- 
1858, a Connecticut Liberal (Chicago, 1942), pp. 125, 223-24. Cf. Taylor's Man a free 
Agent Without the Aid of Divine Grace ("Doctrinal Tracts," No. 2, New Haven, 1818), 
disputing the Methodist position, with the review of T. F. R. Mercein, Natural Goodness 
(New York, 1854), in The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXXVIH (1855), p. 144. 

81 Robert Baird, Religion in America (New York, 1844), p. 291; cf. pp. 32, 299-302. 
"See Church History, XXXIV (1955), 175-76, a review of Norman A. Baxter, 

History of the Freewill Baptists; A Study in New England Separatism (Unpublished 
Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1954); "The Freedom of the Will Not Destroyed 
in Regeneration," The Watchman and Reflector, Nov. 23, 1854; and "The Recorder vs. 
The Congregationalist," The Christian Register, March 13, 1858. 


with thundering assurance that the Divine will was ready to dispense 
grace in enlarged measure. The sermons, tracts, and books which "Cal- 
vinist" ministers prepared for the edification of seeking souls showed a 
fine disregard for Mr. Calvin's five points. 33 Most startling of all was 
James W. Alexander's declaration that every man can be saved if he 
"yields to the moving of the gracious Spirit, takes God at His word, and 
makes the universal offer his own particular salvation." The Independent, 
needless to say, lost no time in praising the good doctor's volume. When 
The Presbyterian responded with obvious embarrassment that Alexander's 
position was no different from that which his Old School brethren held, 
Beecher fired back: 'This is the theology of Edwards, Dwight, and Taylor, 
the theology of New England, but it is not the theology of Princeton." 84 
Now thoroughly alarmed, orthodox forces rallied to launch two quarterly 
journals designed to halt the heresy among the clergy. The Boston Review, 
promoted by the conservative newspaper, The Puritan Recorder, dusted 
off the old accusation that Arminianism had spawned Unitarianism and 
compared the doctrine of free will to the temptations of Bunyan's Pilgrim. 
The first words in The American Theological Review, which began 
publication in New York in 1859, were a stinging rebuke of 

this breaking away from old usages and conventional restraints; this re-investiga- 
tion of moral principles, and reconstruction of ethical codes; this transcendental 
soaring of perverted minds for the absolute, the perfect; this putting forth of new 
schemes of reform, and new modes of explicating theological truths. . . . Sound 
theological views were never more important than at the present juncture of 
partial waking to Christian responsibilities. 85 

** The New York Pulpit in the Revival of 1858 a Memorial Volume of Sermons (New 
York, 1858), passim; see especially "Coming to Christ," pp. 187-96, by M. S. Hutton, 
minister of die Washington Square Dutch Reformed Church, and "What Shall I Do to 
Be Saved/* p. 203, hy William Ives Buddington, pastor of the Clinton Avenue Congrega- 
tional Church. See also the address of the Rev. H. Dunning, pastor of the First Presby- 
terian Church, Baltimore, in Y.M.C.A., Baltimore, Proceedings of the All-Day Prayer 
Meeting . . . September 27 r 1859 (Baltimore, 1859), pp. 11-12; and the emphasis upon 
"only believing" in J. W. Alexander, op. tit., pp. 13, 88, 111, 113. Cf. Edward N. Kirk, 
The Waiting Saviour (Boston, 1865), passim; Albert Barnes, The Way of Salvation 
(Philadelphia, 1863), passim; and The Christian Review, XXIV (1860), pp. 316-17, for 
comments on Francis Wayland, Salvation "hy Christ (Boston, 1859). 

"The Independent, Dec. 30, 1858 and Jan. 6, 1859. 

"The American Theological Review, 1 (1859), pp 1-2 ff. Cf. "Spurious Revivals," 
the same, pp. 82, 83 and the attack on "spurious conversions" in "The Theology of 
Edwards, as Shown in His Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections," the same, pp. 
199-200. See also "Theology, Old and New," The Boston Review, I (1861), 97-113, 
passim; "About Beginnings," the same, p. 5 complaining of the theological ignorance of 



But the triumphant march of revivalism and free grace was not to be 
halted by the apparition of the Rev. Cotton Mathers ghost. Arminians 
had been defending themselves from such attacks for three centuries. Of 
course God was sovereign, declared revival advocate Levi Sternberg to 
a Hartwick Lutheran Seminary audience, and no human means would 
move him if he had not in his sovereignty chosen to work together with 
man to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. A "divine and human 
co-operation" seemed to such men the Bible plan to save the world. 36 

Methodist educator Wilbur Fisk had long since defined the Wesleyan 
answer to the charge that his sect preached salvation by works: men were 
saved by grace alone, but not without exercising the moral power of choice 
which grace had granted them. Thus Wesley s followers rejected both 
what John McClintock, editor of The Methodist Quarterly Review, called 
the Oberlin theology's "flippant denial" of man's depravity and the old 
orthodoxy's extreme insistence upon it. McClintock protested the fashion 
among liberals to "identify Christianity with Calvinism" and thus to "load 
Scriptural Christianity with the sins of a superannuated theology." 3T When 
in 1860 a former student of Nathaniel Taylor ventured to assert in The 
New Englander that his teacher was responsible for establishing the 
doctrine of free will in America, Daniel Whedon, by then editor of the 
Methodist quarterly, took him sharply to task. 

Principles of divine government which he, with the mass of Dr. Taylors 
pupils, imagined to be original with their master, and for which they proclaim 
him "A Newton in Theology," have for a century been embodied in Wesleyan 
theology; have in past times been patent in the horn-book of every Methodist 
circuit-rider, and have constituted much of our strength in demolishing Calvin- 
ism, antmomianism, and sin. 

'Whether this reviewer happens to be aware of it or not/' Whedon added, 

tte younger clergy; and attacks on Nathaniel W. Taylor's theology and Henry Ward 
Beecher's lack of it, the same, pp. 129-54, and II (1862), pp. 1-24. 

8a Charles Adams, Evangelism, p. 19; L. Sternherg, "Revivals," The Evangelical Quar- 
terly Review, XV (1864), p. 278. Cf. the immensely complicated reasoning o The Watch- 
man and Reflector, Aug. 20 and Dec. 3, 1857, endeavoring to mai-ntam the form of 

8T George Prentice, Wilbur Fisk, pp. 90, 111-38, analyzes Fisk's book, Calvinistic Contro- 
versy. Embracing a Sermon on Predestination and Election (New York, 1837). Cf. John 
McClintock, "The Conflict of the Ages," The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXXVI (1854), 
pp. 176, 189-90; and "The Princeton Review on Arminianism and Grace," the same, 
XXXVIII (1856), pp. 257-59, 261, 263, 265. 



"the reality of human freedom is the great point of division between 
Arminianism and Calvinism." 88 

The strength of the new Samson was its unshorn orthodoxy. Evangelical 
Arminians, unlike radical liberals, would join as humbly as any in the 
solemn confession, "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned 
every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of 
us all." But their Christ was the good Shepherd who sought out even the 
last, lost sheep; their God, the loving Father who welcomed every returning 
prodigal to a life of holiness and love. Precisely because theirs was a 
new, emotionally dynamic combination of old tenets, rather than a radical 
departure, they were able to accomplish what Emerson and Parker could 

To be sure, Arminian orthodoxy can be just as dry as Jonathan Edwards' 
bones and just as sterile of saving compassion. But in the nineteenth 
century it was nurtured in the warm tides of revival fervor and conditioned 
by a controversy which made it as conscious as it was cautious of its 

Whether as a religious doctrine it really affected the social outlook of 
the churches is a problem heavily if inconclusively documented by scores 
of writers who have found Umtarianism's denial of human depravity the 
fountain of its enlightened social views. Unless their work is utterly point- 
less, it must be of some significance that Americas largest sect laid most 
stress on man's freedom and God's readiness to "cleanse us from all 
unrighteousness," and that by the time of the Civil War all but the Scotch 
Presbyterian, Antimission Baptist, and German Reformed denominations 
in the Calvinist fold had moved decidedly toward free will. Wherever 
the belief that the saving power of God was at work in the world was 
applied to social relationships, it was bound to sustain a more liberal social 
ethic. The problem, as we shall see, was how it might be applied. 

An important by-product of revivalism's triumph over Calvinism was 
that American theology stood increasingly upon the practical, empirical 
foundation ol Christian experience. Finney remarked after his first visit to 
England, "I found that their theology was to a very great extent dogmatic, 
in the sense that it rested on authority. . . . When I began to preach, 

88 "Wesleyanism and Taylorism Reply to The New Englander" The Methodist Quar- 
terly Review, XLH (1860), pp. 664, 667. Cf. the same, pp. 146-47. 



they were surprised that I reasoned with people." 85 Ten years later a 
Baptist editor and promoter of revivals warned that utilitarianism was 
pulling men's minds from the hope of heaven. But he did not realize the 
pragmatism implicit in his own complaint that theology had remained 
"meagre and dry/* lacking an "internal, vigorous life," because its principles 
had not yet been reconstructed to express "the realities of the spiritual life 
in which they are founded/' 40 Many Methodists thought that their 
greatest contribution to Christianity was "heart earnestness," or the Belief 
that sanctified affections, not the intellect, were the chief aggresive instru- 
ment of the gospel. "The truth/' said revivalist Levi Stemberg in 1865, 
"meets a response in Christian experience." 41 

In the same romantic-pragmatic mood Mark Hopkins arranged the 
wedding of Puritan virtue and the pursuit of happiness; man's end was 
neither holiness nor happiness alone, but a holy happiness, a happy holi- 
ness. As a Methodist preacher put it, "Godliness is the sum of our duty and 
the summit of our bliss." The offspring of Zeno and Epicurus had at last 
joined hands in Christian love. 42 

A prophet might have foreseen that such sentirnentalism would under- 
mine the intellectual bulwarks which had withstood the earliest onslaughts 
of liberal theology. A new generation would trust the Holy Spirit to be 
"the conservator of orthodoxy." The joyous adulation of "experience" 
strengthened, too, the credulous strain in the American character. A 
people grown romantically attached to the phenomenal in religion would 
at length find a place for Mary Baker Eddy, P. T. Barnum, Billy Sunday, 
and William James, professor of philosophy at Harvard University and 
author of The Varieties of Religious Experience. 

Thus did the national faith of the nineteenth century approach a 
measure of integration. Lay-centered, tolerant of minor sectarian differ- 

89 Memoirs, p. 451; cf. Finney, Lectures on Revivals of Religion (New York, 1868), pp. 
375-92. Richard C Wolf, "The Middle Period, 1800-1870, the Matrix of Modern Ameri- 
can Christianity," Religion in Life, a Christian Quarterly of Opinion and Discussion, XXH 
(1952-53), p. 83, contains comments on this theme. 

"The Watchman and Reflector, Nov. 30, 1854. Cf. Harper's Monthly, XXI (I860), 
pp. 122-23* 

" J. McClintock, "Stephen Olin," The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXXVI (1854), p. 
24, contains a similar statement; see Levi Sternberg, "Pilate's Question/' The Evangelical 
Quarterly Review, XVI (1865), pp. 587-88; and W. T. Willey, "The Spirit and Mission 
of Methodism," The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXXVI (1854), pp. 57-76, passim. 

** See the review of Hopldns's Lectures on Moral Science (New York, 1862) in The 
Christian Review, XXVHI (1863), pp. 328-29; and dark, M. E. PitZfit, p. 332. 



eaces, ethically vital and democratically Anninian, it was a creed of practical 
piety, and of compassion which went beyond fine intentions. Though still 
centered in the historic Christian views of man and God and of salvation 
through Christ, it was actively devoted to making the world a place where 
men might more readily choose the good path. 


Evangelical Unitarknlsm 

The growing rapprochement Between evangelicals and the 
conservative group dominant in the American Unitarian Association il- 
lustrates most dramatically the wide significance of the new patterns of 
Protestant work and thought. By 1854 the Baptist newspaper in Boston 
was confident that the "right wing" Unitarians were "steadily advancing 
towards a pure, evangelical faith." 1 During the next three years the 
religious press pulsed with a hopeful discussion of this theme, set in motion 
by two Unitarian ministers, George E. Ellis and Frederic Dan Huntington. 
That every periodical serving theirs and the Universalist denomination 
participated suggests how strong was the reaction against Theodore Parker's 

Huntington, youthful pastor at the South Church, Boston, and editor 
of The Monthly Religious Magazine, explained that the chief Unitarian 
blind spot was to think that the orthodox actually regarded the Father as 
vengeful, when they in fact identified him with the Saviour's love and 
thought the Atonement the crowning work of his compassion. Huntington 
questioned whether men were truly liberals who were "tolerant of skepti- 
cism and persecutors of orthodoxy." In 1855 he declared that a large group 
of Unitarians believed the essence of Christianity to be a "special, super- 
natural redemption from sin, in Christ Jesus" the "eternally begotten Son 
of God," the "ever-living present Head of the Church and personal inter- 
cessor for his disciples." The next year when a Miss Plummer, of Salem, 
endowed at Harvard a "professorship of the heart, not the head," whose 
incumbent she wished to serve as minister and friend to the students, the 
university corporation elected Huntington to the post and proceeded to 
build the Appleton Chapel for his use. 2 

*The Watchman and Reflector, March 23, 1854. Cf. The Independent, Jan. 2, 1851, 
summarizing a recent amicable discussion with The Christian Register, 

* The Monthly Religious Magazine, XIV (1855), pp. 53, 56-57; XV (1856), pp. 110-11; 
Cf. the same, p. 104 and XVI (1856), pp. 44^5. Robert Baird quoted the 1855 article in 
his State and Prospects of Religion in America . . . (London, 1855), pp. 88-91. See also, 



Ellis, meanwhile, published in The Christian Examiner a long series 
of articles seeking to conciliate the Congregationalists. Both sides ought 
now to recognize, he urged, that neither humanism nor Calvinism any 
longer exerted a powerful religious influence. The only question still 
dividing them was whether Christ possessed "the underived honors of the 
Godhead" so as to be "an object of worship and prayer and of our ultimate 
religious dependence." The Harvard Corporation made Ellis professor of 
systematic theology the next year. In his inaugural address he proclaimed 
that the spirit and power of the "old orthodoxy" which was dead among 
Congregationalists ruled again at Harvard. That the current of Unitarian 
preaching was moving away from the "excesses of rationalism" toward a 
"more fervent and heart-satisfying Christology" and a "religion which 
springs up from experience" seemed to one of their prominent pastors a 
fact "too obvious to be more than stated." s 

The retreat from radicalism could not have taken this direction had not 
orthodoxy been so recently and powerfully liberalized by the common 
evangelistic faith. The new drive toward Christian union, for example, 
matched the long Unitarian antipathy to sectarianism and also magnified 
experience over creeds. The age had discovered, as one put it, an earnest 
belief in Christ which was antisectarian in nature and displayed as well 
"a wider range of inquiry and toleration than the most indifferent skepti- 
cism." Huntington praised the more earnest catholicity of evangelical 
Unitarians and professed the hope that soon the gospel of inward love and 
self-forgetful devotion to Christ would "take the place of all sectarian 
strifes . . . and absorb the entire church in an undivided and joyful amity. 4 
His associates soon discovered, as had he, that the quest of personal religious 

Ama S. Huntington, Memoir and Letters of Frederic Dan Huntington . . . (Boston, 1906), 
pp. 103, 168. 

8 See The Watchman and Reflector, Aug. 13, 1857, and Solon W. Bush, "The 
Autumnal Convention," The Monthly Religious Magazine, XVI (1856), p. 256. Cf. 
"Stumbling-Blocks of Liberalism/' the same, pp. 300, 303-04. 

Ellis's articles were reproduced in George E. Ellis, Half-Century of Unitarian Contro- 
versy (Boston, 1857), from which, p. 105, the quotation is taken; cf. pp. viii, xxiv, 5, 7, and 
the essay, "The New Theology," pp. 343-405, jwzssitw. The Christian Register, Jan. 19, 
and 26, 1856, reviewed the first article as well as an editorial on "Fellowship with Uni- 
tarians" which had appeared in The New York Evangelist; succeeding issues carried more 
of the series. See also "What Does It Mean?" The Puritan Recorder, Jan. 29, 1857; and 
The Methodist Quarterly Review, XLI (1859), pp. 386-401. 

*The Monthly Religious Magazine, XV (1856), p. 53; Dexter A. Clapp, "Sects, the 
Broken Body of the Church," the same, XVII (1857), p. 151. See also, the same, XIV 
(1855), p. 53; XV (1856), pp. 264-65, 267; XVII (1857), p. 3; and The Watchman and 
Reflector, March 23, 1854. Cf. Ellis, Unitarian Controversy, pp. xiii-xiv. 



experience led them to a new appreciation of the doctrines of the Trinity 
and the Atonement. For the foundations of a 'living faith," one of them 
wrote, was not any system of dogmatic truths, but "Christ, the Saviour 
who died . . . [and] is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and 
sanctification and redemption." 5 

Revivalism's rejection of predestination and emphasis upon the con- 
tinuous availability of the Holy Spirit proved equally helpful. Unitarian 
affirmations of the latter doctrine in 1858 compare identically with one 
made by an Episcopalian, seeking to show that revivals were unnecessary, 
and others by a Methodist and an Old School Presbyterian declaring 
them to be indispensable! The new stress upon the reality of the Divine 
presence in Christian prayer was a variant of the same theme. 6 Thus the 
Rev. Edward E. Hale, Huntington's successor at the South Church, 
welcomed Rnney's preaching at Park Street in 1858 as an illustration of 
how "orthodoxy melts in the fire." 

The churches of the sad confession, at an epoch like this, come up to our 
position. ... He believes, as we believe, that the tide of the Spirit is always 
at high water. And so, in his own side of the church, they criticize him, and 
his, as much as they dare, as "Perfectionists." . . . Nor does he reject the 
criticism. . . . The doctrine beneath [his] language is the doctrine from which 
the Old Calvinism is to meet its inevitable doom. It is the Quaker doctrine, the 
Methodist doctrine, the Ultra-Unitarian doctrine, the Transcendental doctrine 
that God is, every moment, with every child, in a union so close that nothing 
can be compared with it 7 

8 J. I. T. Coolidge, "The Foundations of a Living Faith," The Monthly Religious Maga- 
zine, XVI (1856), p. 292. Cf. L. S. S., "What Is the True Doctrine of 'the Cross/ Viewed 
as the Central Doctrine of the Gospel?'* the same, XIV (1855), pp. 74-75; Horace Bush- 
nell, "The Christian Trinity a Practical Truth," die same, XIII (1855), pp. 113, 115; 
S. W. Dutton, "The Relation of the Atonement to Holiness/' the same, XV (1856), p. 20; 
and "The Essence of Christianity," the same, XVIII (1857), p. 28. See also, for an interest- 
ing interpretation, James Freeman Clarke, The Hour Which Cometh, and Now Is: 
Sermons Preached in Indiana-Place Chapel, Boston (Boston, 1877), pp. 19-20. 

Cf. the statements in The Christian Register, Feb. 9, 1856 and Apr. 10, 1858, with 
anon., The Revival System and the Paraclete. A Series of Articles from the Church 
Journal (New York, 1858), p. 32; Samuel Irenaeus Prime, Five Years of Prayer, with the 
Answers (New York, 1864), p. 8; and James Waddell Alexander, The Revival and Its 
Lessons . . . (New York, 1858), p. 13. 

See also Frederic Dan Huntington, "Public Prayers in Colleges," The Monthly Reli- 
gious Maga&ne, XVIH (1857), pp. 270, 271; and L. J. H., "A Sinner/' the same, XVI 
(1856), pp. 205, 206. 

''The Watchman and Reflector, Apr. 15, 1858, quoted this sermon at length; the issue 
for Apr. 29 reviewed favorably Huntington's sermon, Permanent Realities of Religion, and 
the Present Religious Interest (Boston, 1858), which made the same point. C again, 



The idea of the Holy Spirit's nearness seemed to such men an evangelical 
version of the transcendentalist conception of immanent divinity. 8 

In a reminiscence published in 1860, Rufus Ellis, now editor of Hunt- 
ington's old magazine, reasoned that an Emerson was bound to appear in 
New England once Unitarianisrn had replaced orthodoxy with "a merely 
historical Christianity, a reproduction, with miraculous attestations, of 
the Religion of Nature, ... a Gospel without a Holy Ghost." Ellis recalled 
that during the 1840's the shock of radicalism had divided the student 
body at Harvard Divinity School into "skeptics, mystics, and dyspeptics." 
Antipathy toward the extravagances of revivalists had thereafter 
strengthened their tendency to overlook the agency of the Holy Spirit, 
by which, as he put it, "the miracles of conversion are continually repeated 
in Christendom and the conclusive evidence of the truth of the Gospel 
afforded to the individual soul." 9 His advice that the doctrine of a "Divine 
influx" replace that of self-development in Unitarian preaching illustrates 
how liberals and evangelicals were finding common ground in Evangelical 
Arminianism. One camp rejected radical humanism while the other dis- 
membered Orthodox Calvinism. Both would join man's will to God's grace 
to set the sinner free. 10 

Preaching which called for a morally transforming regeneration and a 
life of practical service likewise made evangelical faith palatable to liberal 
Christians. Horace BushnelFs sermon emphasizing this theme was echoed 
among them in many quarters. 11 Several Unitarian clergymen agreed that 
they had erred in ignoring the need of a personal spiritual relationship with 
Christ, of the piety they now saw to be the foundation of good works. The 

The Christian Register, Feb. 9, 1856, and James Freeman Clarke, Revivals, Natural and 
Artificial (Boston, 1860), passim. 

8 Sidney E. Mead, Nathaniel W. Taylor, J 78 6-2 858, A Connecticut Liberal (Chicago, 
1942), pp. 125-27, shows the same parallel for an earlier period. 

"Ruius Ellis, "Our Gross Injustice to the Great Body of Unitarian Believers" The 
Monthly Religious Magazine, XXV (1861), pp. 256, 257-59. 

10 A. P. Marvin, "Three Eras of Revivals in The United States," BiUiotheca Sacra 
XVI (1859), pp. 285-90. Of. George E. Ellis, "The New Theology," The Christian 
Examiner, LXH (1857), pp. 321-22, 328, 337, 341-42, and especially 353-54, with the 
same author's affirmations of human ahility fifteen years before in Regeneration and Sancti- 
fication. Two Sermons Preached . . . Sunday, March 6, 1842 (Charlestown, 1842), pp. 11, 

11 Horace Bushnell, "The True Prohlem of Christian Experience," The Monthly Re- 
li&ous Magazine, XX (1858), p. 119; James Walker, "The Gospel a Remedy for Sin " the 
same, XVm (1857), pp. 218, 220, 222-23; F, D. Huntington, "Three Dispensations in 
History and in the Soul," the same, XX (1858), p. 167; H, M., "Inward Renewal, the 
Work of the Spirit," the same, pp. 289-97, and passim. 



kingdom of Christ could not be ushered in by benevolent enterprises and 
charitable societies, said one, unless these were supported by "personal 
consecration, the enthusiasm of holy hearts," and "the union of spirits with 
Christ." What Unitarians needed, he cried, was the Pentecostal baptism 
of the Holy Ghost! 12 

Another declared that their churches were at a "dull, lifeless standstill" 
because in opposing the vicarious theory of the atonement, they had 
ignored the supernatural power of God in regeneration something which 
the orthodox, despite their error in symbolizing this power solely by the 
cross, never had done. He urged both groups to recognize Christ himself, 
the living Saviour, "as the indwelling eternal life the Comforter and 
Sanctifier." They ought, he said, to abandon their preoccupation with a 
purely objective atonement on the one side, and with an equally objective 
moral example on the other to seek "the SUBJECTIVE POWER that floweth 
out of the presence, invisible but real, of the mediatorial Christ." 18 

Similar but more orthodox views in a sermon which S. W. S. Button 
delivered to the Congregational General Association of Connecticut and 
published in Huntington's magazine in 1856 excited wide comment. 14 
Even those who criticized it displayed an utter seriousness about personal 
holiness, personal consecration. James I. T. Coolidge, pastor of the Purchase 
Street Unitarian Church, Boston, and Huntington's intimate friend, prayed 
that Christians everywhere might be taught to surrender their whole souls 
"to the very Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world/' 
Thus might they live "a life guided, ruled, sanctified in every detail and 
every relation, by faith in the Son of God, who loved us, and gave himself 
for us." 15 Little wonder that, while preparing a sermon for Pentecost 
Sunday, 1858 the year of the great revival this pastor should find him- 
self writing the words 'Trinity in unity and unity in Trinity." Coolidge 

18 "Christian Earnestness," the same, XVH (1857), pp. 154, 155, 158-59. Cf. George 
W. Briggs, "Civilization Not Regeneration," the same, pp. 299, 300; 'The Inefficiency of 
the Church of Christ," the same, XV (1856), pp. 39, 41; and H. S. E., "A Glance at 
Ourselves," the same, XVI (1856), pp. 169, 170. 

The masthead o The Christian Register hore during these years the slogan, "Liberty, 
Holiness, Love"! 

18 L. S. C, "What Is the True Doctrine of the Cross," loc. eft., pp. 65, 68-69, 72, 75. 

14 S. W. S. Button, "The Relation of the Atonement to Holiness," The Monthly Re- 
ligious Magazine XV (1856), pp. 32-33; see also, in the same volume, pp. 106-12, 194- 
206, passim, 235-57, $assim, 320-23, 359-61. Cf. Arria S. Huntington, op. dt., pp. 154- 

15 J. L T. Coolidge, "The Foundations o a Living Faith," loc. ofc, p. 294; < 'The 
Essence of Christianity," The Monthly Religious Magazine, XVUI (1857), p. 28, and 
those who criticized Button, the same, XV O856), pp. 108, 236, 255-56. 



realized at once that this was his vital faith, and at the close of the sermon 
offered his resignation. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit, he testified, 
whose awakening power in the soul had guided him to the Father by way 
of the Son, had set him firmly on the right road. 16 

Frederic Dan Huntington's pilgrimage into the Episcopal ministry 
added a dramatic note to this story. The controversy over Button's sermon 
led the Plummer Professor of Morals and preacher at the Appleton Chapel 
to announce that the magazine he edited must henceforth be regarded as 
"throughly imsectarian." It would be devoted to the "great doctrines of the 
New Testament, repentance, regeneration, faith, holiness, the redemption 
by Christ, humble dependence on God, the supernatural gifts of the 
Holy Spirit, the personal presence of Christ to the disciple and the 
Church" and "the unity of Christ's body/' 

Huntington later testified to the intense agony which the conflict 
between his increasingly evangelical views and the strong ties of sentiment 
and belief which bound him to the Unitarian people brought on during 
his years at Harvard. He had at first aimed "to find a way of so urging 
the truths of Christ's divine nature and mediatorship, the necessity of a 
personal relationship to Him, both subjective and sacramental, and the in- 
spiring power of His cross upon character, charities, and missions" as to 
secure a response to them without needless opposition. 17 By 1858, the 
decisive year, he doubted if this course were possible, though he could not 
yet share his friend Coolidge's statement of Trinitarianism. Some time 
during the next twelve months "the light entered his soul," and he wrote 
the sermon, "Life, Salvation and Comfort for Man in the Divine Trinity/' 
published in December, 1859. Meanwhile, across Harvard Yard, George E. 
Ellis leaned as far as he could toward Trinitariamsm, as though to woo 
his friend to stay within the fold. 18 

The event made a profound impact upon New England. Huntington's 
personal future became a chief topic of discussion. Influential representa- 

" Arria S. Huntington, op. ctt, p. 163; The Watchman and Reflector, Aug. 5, 1858. 
TTie significance of tne perfectionist note struck in many of the foregoing references will 
be dealt with, later. 

1T Tfce Monthly Religious Magazine, XVHI (1857), pp. 1-4; Arria S. Huntington, 
op. at., pp. 154, 161. 

"Atria Himtington, op. dt. pp. 163-65; Frederic D. Huntington, Christian Believing 
and Living (New York 1859), pp. 355-418, passim; George E. Ellis, The Christian 
Tnmty-the Doctrine of God, the Father; Jesus Christ; and the Holy Spirit. A Discourse 
Preached in Harvard Church, Chorlestown, February 3, 1S60 (CKarlestown, 1860) pt> 
4-6, and passim. vv ' 



tives of every denomination extended him a welcoming hand. A large and 
distinguished group, including the president-elect of Harvard, C. C. Felton, 
and Manton Eastburn, Low Church Episcopalian Bishop o Massachusetts, 
wished him to remain where he was, arguing that his drift toward 
evangelicalism was well known at the time of his election to the Harvard 
post. Huntington's conscience was far too sensitive to permit this course, 
He had twice earlier submitted his resignation and left it to President James 
Walker's discrimination, fearing that to remain would be unfair both 
to the parents of students who deemed his views erroneous and to those 
who might readily accept them save for uncertainty as to what they really 
were. He presented his formal resignation to the Harvard Corporation 
January 19, 1860, and on the eve of Ash Wednesday made application to 
be considered a candidate for Episcopal orders. He believed that he had 
chosen that one among the evangelical communions which best exempli- 
fied the authority of Scripture and visible church and which, by the beauty 
and dignity of its worship, best symbolized the spiritual realities of the 
Christian religion. That ministers in other sects appreciated the sincerity 
and liberality of his choice is evident from the "charity" lectures with 
which they kept him busy during the months following, while he was 
subject to the canon forbidding the unordained to preach. 19 

Admitted to the Order of Deacons in September, Huntington immedi- 
ately became pastor of a new congregation, gathered from recent converts 
out of the Unitarian and other faiths, who wished to locate in the newly 
developed section beyond the Boston Public Garden, now known as the 
Back Bay. His original idea was to build there a great "People's Church," 
in which pew rents would be abandoned in favor of an evangelistic pro- 
gram made sophisticated by Episcopal forms of worship. The expense of 
constructing the church building combined with the wealthy nature of 
the new community to make the plan unworkable. But its spirit lived on 
in the earnest, personal service for which the congregation was carefully 
organized, in the Sunday school and mission chapel in the slums where 
Huntington loved to preach, and in the heart and life of the pastor who 
exhibited the "people's religion" of the nineteenth century at its best. 20 

18 Arria S. Huntington, oy. dt, pp. 167, 168-69, 174-75, 181-95, passim, 197, 198, 209- 
10. Cf. Frederic D. Huntington, Lectures on Human Society (New York, 1860). 

80 Arria S. Huntington, op. cit., pp. 214, 216, 218-19, 240-43. For the defensive re- 
action of certain Unitarian clergymen see Thomas Starr King, Trinitarianis-m Not the 
Doctrine of the New Testament (Boston, I860); Thomas Starr King and Orville Dewey, 
The New Discussion of the Trinity; Containing Notices of Professor Huntingdon's Recent 
Defense of That Doctrine (Boston, 1860). 



The changes which the new evangelism wrought affected in some 
similar fashion every significant religious movement of the last half of the 
century. What makes particularly interesting their impact upon Unitarians 
is the way in which the spiritual heirs of William Ellery Channing dis- 
covered the similarity of the moral and social aims of the evangelicals to 
their own. By 1840 both Calvinism and humanism had been weighed in 
the balances and found wanting. The yearnings of Finney on the one 
hand and Emerson on the other for a vitally transforming faith made this 
fact plain. But transcendentalism was not to be the answer. Erratic, 
sophisticated, and at odds with popular religious prejudices, its champions 
were as much inclined to withdraw from the world as they were to reform 
it. Their doctrine could serve only as a symbol, not a solace, for the 
nation's spiritual hunger. In fact, it widened the breach which Channing 
had opened between the enlightened and the Orthodox. 

The Holy Ghost's outpouring on the churches, a transcendent experi- 
ence of another sort, was the arc which closed the gap. It was not the 
logic of liberal seminary professors, but the roaring revivals of the 1850's 
which broke the grip of Calvinism on nineteenth-century Protestantism. 
The evangelists substituted an existential for the dogmatic concept of 
original sin, picturing it as a diseased condition of the soul rather than a 
legal burden of guilt for Adam's fall. More important, as we shall see in 
the following three chapters, they spread the faith that divine grace was 
available here and now to cleanse it all away. Sin was real, but God's love 
in Christ could conquer it and so regenerate the nation and save the world. 



The Holiness Revival 
at Oberlln 

Christian perfectionism has lately been in such low es- 
teem that church historians have sadly neglected one of the nineteenth 
century's most persistent and socially significant religious themes. They 
have depicted it as an illustration of frontier religious radicalism, or, at best, 
an outgrowth of Methodist earnestness which responsible church leaders 
neither wanted nor accepted. Actually the hunger for holiness lay near the 
heart of every movement concerned with developing a more meaningful 

The revivals of the Jacksonian era produced in Charles G. Finney a 
perfectionism quite as radical as any that John Wesley's followers ever 
taught. Since the Oberlin doctrine did not look back to an eighteenth-cen- 
tury prophet, but rather grew out of the religious climate of the age, its 
history serves well to introduce the current which swept across American 
Protestantism between 1835 and the end of the Civil War. 

Soon after Finney settled in the pastorate of the Chatham Street Chapel, 
New York City, he tells us that he gave himself to earnest study of the 
Bible until his mind "was satisfied that an altogether higher and more 
stable form of Christian life was attainable, and was the privilege of all 
Christians." John Wesley's Plain Account of Christian Perfection and the 
biography of James Brainerd Taylor fell into his hands during 1836, about 
the time he began a group of twenty-five "lectures to professing Christians," 
first published serially in The New York Evangelist. He devoted the last 
nine of these to the doctrine of entire sanctification, an experience which he 
did not yet profess but believed all Christians could attain. When critics 
proceeded to identify these views with the antinomianism rife among the 
Vermont and New York groups who were eventually to congregate around 



John Humphrey Noyes and the Oneida Community, Finney was moved to 
caution. 1 

His terms of duty at Oberlin after 1837, however, inevitahly quickened 
the immense spiritual energies which were concentrated there on the 
higher development of the Christian graces. A revival season in 1839 es- 
pecially featured the duty of helievers to resist temptation and live a holy 
life. During one of the daily "religious discussions" a student rose to ask 
the inevitable question: "Might a Christian expect to attain sanctification 
in the present life?" President Asa Mahan, deeply affected, at once re- 
sponded, "yes," and he and the other preachers gave themselves forthwith 
to seeking this exalted state. 2 

They believed that they found it, and an era of spiritual quickening fol- 
lowed in the wake of their joyful preaching which President James H. 
Fairchild an opponent of the "second blessing" idea believed to be the 
source of scores of transformed lives. The faculty immediately began pub- 
lishing their new faith in The Oberlm Evangelist, The Oberlin Quarterly, 
and numerous other books. 3 In general, they said little about "sinlessness." 
"Perfection" meant perfect trust and consecration, the experience of "the 
fullness of the love of Christ," not freedom from troublesome physical and 
mental appetites or from error and prejudice. The preachers early dis- 
couraged a student "holiness band," believing that it drew too sharp a dis- 
tinction between the sanctified and the "merely" justified. They varied, 
however, in their terminology. Finney preferred the phrase, "entire sancti- 
fication"; Henry Cowles, '"holiness"; Asa Mahan, "Christian perfection"; 
and John Morgan, "the baptism of the Holy Ghost." 4 

Modern interpretations have neglected the kinship of this perfectionist 

1 See Charles G. Finney, Memoirs . . . (New York, 1876), p. 340, and his Lectures to 
Professing Christians (New York, 1878), pp. 352-53, 358-59. 

* Finney, Memoirs, pp. 349-51; James H. Fairchild, "The Doctrine of Sanctification at 
Oberlin," The Congregational Quarterly, XVIII (1876), pp. 238-40. 

3 Finney, Memoirs, pp. 347-50; Fairchild, Joe. cit., p. 243. See also Charles G. Finney, 
Views of Sanctijkation (Oberlin, 1840), and his Lectures on Systematic Theology (Oberlin, 
1846), pp. 3, 500; Henry Cowles, The Holiness of Christians in the Present Life (Ober- 
lin, 1840), first published serially in The Oberlin Evangelist-, Asa Mahan, Scripture 
Doctrine of Christian Perfection . . . (Oberlin, 1839), and The True Believer; His Char- 
acter, Duty and Privileges . . . (New York, 1847); John Morgan, "The Gift of the Holy 
Ghost," The Oberlin Quarterly Review, I (1845), pp. 90-116, and his volume, The 
Holiness Acceptable to God (Oberlin, 1846). 

* Fairchild, Joe. tit., pp. 240, 241, 243. Recent accounts are Robert S. Fletcher, A 
History of Oberlin College, from Its Foundation Through the Civil War (Oberlin, 1943), 
I, pp. 223-29; Whitney Rogers Cross, The Burned-Over District . . . (Ithaca, N. Y., 1950), 
pp. 228-5L 



outburst to wider strivings of the transcendental age. Edward Beecher, for 
example, had called in 1835 for "the immediate production of an elevated 
standard of personal holiness throughout the universal church such a 
standard ... as God requires, and the present exigencies of the world 
demand." On its success, he believed, depended all hopes for the early 
inauguration of the kingdom of God on earth. 5 In the same year Mrs. 
Sarah A. Lankford, of New York City, combined the ladies' prayer meet- 
ings of two Methodist congregations to form the "Tuesday Meeting for 
the Promotion of Holiness/* Her sister Phoebe, wife of Dr. Walter C. 
Palmer, a young physician, experienced sanctification soon afterward and 
became the acknowledged leader. By 1840 several prominent clergymen 
were helping these women organize a revival of the Wesleyan experience 
of perfect love in the metropolitan center of Methodism. At about the same 
time the radical Franckean Lutheran Synod, organized in upstate New 
York in 1837, adopted an emphatically perfectionist creed. 6 As Catherine 
Beecher wrote Finney on receipt of the news from Oberlin, Protestants 
everywhere were discovering "a practical difficulty arising from past views 
of Christian imperfection that needs to be met somehow . . . tho' the right 
way" was "not yet clearly seen." 7 

Thomas Coggeshall Upham, professor at Bowdoin College and one of 
the country's most promising young philosophers, became absorbed In this 
problem in 1839. On a September afternoon while having tea with his 
wife's new friends, Phoebe Palmer and Sarah Lankford, he found the 
answer. Upham immediately laid aside his uncompleted series of philo- 
sophical treatises to write a dozen books expounding a mystical, experimental 
version of Wesleyan perfectionism. 8 

8 Edward Beecher, "The Nature, Importance, and Means of Eminent Holiness Through- 
out the Church," The American National Preacher, X (1835), pp. 193-94, 197, 203. See 
later, pp. 160, 225. 

6 George Hughes, Fragrant Memories of the Tuesday Meeting and Guide to Holiness 
. . . (New York, 1886), pp. 4-5, 10-35; Henry Eyster Jacobs, A History of the Evangelical 
Lutheran Church in The United States (Philip Schaff and others, eds,, The American 
Church History Series, IV, New York, 1893), pp. 457-58. 

7 Catherine Beecher to Charles G. Finney, Nov. 4, 1839, quoted in Fletcher, Oberlin, 
I, p. 225; see Richard Wheatley, The Life and Letters of Mrs. Phoebe Palmer (New York, 
1876), pp. 606-07 for evidence of Miss Beecher's continued interest. 

8 Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, Perfectionism (New York, 1931), II, pp. 371-459, 
is a thoroughly antagonistic account. The sketch of Upham hy Kenneth M. Sills in the 
D.A.B. ignores the whole subject. Cf. the strongly perfectionist note in Episcopalian 
Stephen H. Tyng's Lectures on the Law and the Gosyel (New York, 1843), pp. 236, 239, 
242, 287-90. 

George Peck, "Dr. Upham's Works," The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXVffl 



Horace Bushnell likewise sought a deeper Christian experience, moved 
in part by the death of his infant son in 1842. "I believed from reading, 
especially the New Testament, and from other testimony," he wrote later, 
"that there is a higher, fuller life that can be lived, and set myself to at- 
tain it" He read Upham's newest books, including The Interior Life and 
the biographies of Madame Guyon and Fenelon. Though at last rejecting 
the Methodist view of sanctification, he did not cease seeking. Mrs. Bush- 
nell awakened one morning to find her husband on his knees, staring 
blissfully toward the sunrise. To her question, 'What have you seen," he 
answered, "I have seen the gospel." 9 Thenceforward his books and sermons 
expressed in more cultivated fashion the doctrines of personal righteous- 
ness, the communication of God's love to men, and the living presence of 
the Holy Spirit which Finney and Wesley's followers were preaching to 
the masses. Some Methodists realized this similarity and regretted only 
BushnelTs exclusion of the idea of substitution from his theory of the 
Atonement. 10 

William Edwin Boardman, a young Presbyterian grocer living in the 
tiny lead-mining town of Potosi, Illinois, also began seeking sanctification 
in 1842 after reading James Brainerd Taylors biography. He resisted a 
Methodist circuit rider's instruction until the latter gave him a book con- 
taining testimonies by Finney and Asa Mahan. He and his wife then ob- 
tained "the blessing" and were soon at Lane Theological Seminary, Cin- 
cinnati, making their home a center of holiness testimony to other students. 
Mrs. Boardman set out to write a book explaining the experience in simple 
terms. While correcting her crude manuscript, Boardman conceived the 
idea of his own volume called The Higher Christian Life, published at the 
height of the revival of 1858. He chose this tide in the belief that the grow- 
ing aspiration for perfection in many denominations could best be chan- 
neled toward his own views by a term not previously associated with Ober- 
lin or the Methodists. The book was a huge success. We may perhaps dis- 

(1846), 248-65, analyzes the following of Upham's hooks: Principles of the Interior 
or Hidden Life . . . (New York, 1843); The Life of Faith . . . (New York, 1845); Life of 
Madame Catherine Adorna . . . with . . . Remarks Tending to Illustrate the Doctrine of 
Holiness (New York, 1845); and Life and Religious Opinions and Experience of Madame 
de la Mothe Guyon . . . (New York, 1846). See also, A Treatise on Divine Union . . . 
(Boston, 1852); and, among his later works, Absolute Religion (New York, 1873). 

8 Mary E. (Bushnell) Cheney, Life and Letters of Horace Bushnell (New York, 1880), 
pp. 190-93; Wairen Seymour Archibald, Horace Bushnell (Hartford, 1930), p. 67. 

10 See Charles H. Fowler, "BushnelTs Vicarious Sacrifice," The Methodist Quarterly 
Review, XLVIII (1861), pp. 350, 370. Cf. Horace Bushnell, Sermons for the New Life 
(7th ed., New York, 1869), pp. 106-26, 263-81, yassim. 



count Mrs. Boardman's statement that people lined up outside book- 
sellers' doors to purchase it. But numerous editions did appear in America 
and England (one publisher reportedly sold sixty-thousand copies by 1875), 
and Boardman almost overnight became a well-known figure on both sides 
of the Atlantic. 11 

Frederic Dan Huntington's spiritual journey included a season on the 
highway of holiness, too, as Phoebe Palmer's correspondence makes plain. 
He may have been present at a private discussion in March, 1850, which 
an Episcopalian lawyer arranged for his friends while Mrs. Palmer was 
engaged in a revival at the Bromfield Street Methodist Church, Boston. 
Six months later she answered Huntington's request for more information 
with her usual assertion that we are sanctified by faith, a faith placed in the 
atonement of Christ and the promises of the Holy Scripture. Since the hour 
of her sanctification, she testified: 

I have not seen the moment but that 1 have been so far saved from self, as 
to feel that I would rather die than knowingly sin against God. I have enjoyed 
the consciousness that He is the supreme object of my affections. This is loving 
God with all the heart, and "love is the fulfilling of the hw" . . . , 12 

Causation in intellectual history is, of course, complex. The perfectionist 
yearnings which, as we have seen, most evangelical Unitarian preaching 
displayed in this period no doubt rested principally on the denomination's 
historic aspiration for a moral religion. 31 It is nonetheless interesting that 
Huntington's volume, Christian Believing and Living, which heralded his 
break with Unitarianism in 1859, declared his belief in all the doctrines 
Phoebe Palmer had expounded: scriptural revelation, the atonement of the 
Incarnate Son, and entire sanctification by faith. He denied that there 
were spiritual attainments "unfolded in the gospel really and finally be- 
yond the reach of sincere and consecrated persons." By confidence in the 

II Mary M. Boardman (Mrs. W. E.), Life and Labours of the Rev. W. E. Boardman 
(New York, 1887), pp. 43, 48, 64-65, 70, 79, 81, 91, 100, 103-05; William Edwin 
Boardman, The Higher Christian Life, (Boston, 1858), pp. 1-10; Jacob J. Abbot, "Board- 
man's Higher Christian Life," EiUiotheca Sacra, XVII (1860), pp. 508-34; The Christian, 
I (1863), pp. 30-31. 

"Wheatley, op. tit., pp. 575-76; see also pp. 282-83. Cf. pp. 288-89 and passim for 
notices of other significant union meetings and discussions she held. 

18 See earlier, pp. 97-100. The publication date of George E. Ellis, Regeneration and 
Sanctification . . . (Charlestown, 1842), is significant. Cf. William EUery Charming, The 
Perfect Life, in Twelve Discourses, Edited from His Manuscripts "by His Nephew . . . 
(Boston, 1873). 



Saviour's promises, Huntington said, "Christians do not extol themselves, 
but honor him." 14 

It is thus small wonder that Finney's perfectionism flourished widely de- 
spite considerable criticism. 15 Like other aspects of the Oberlin platform 
revivalism and humanitarian reform it was fitted to the temper of the 
times. A synthesis of the Quaker, Pietist, Methodist, and Puritan tradi- 
tions of personal holiness was at work in American religion. Many who 
at first shared only Finney's belief in the revival path to reform agreed long 
before the Pentecost of 1858 that the sanctification of believers through 
the gift of the Holy Ghost was indispensable to the nation-wide awaken- 
ing which they sought. 16 

The usual theological explanation of the "Oberlin Heresy" that it was 
simply a radical extension of the New School doctrine of natural ability 
underrates its original association with Wesleyanism. Of course, the moral 
optimism of Finney's version of free will was obvious then as now. 17 But 
the antipathy of modern students to the Calvinist view of depravity has 
made them too willing to accept this interpretation alone. Old School men, 
in fact, originated it in order to discredit free will. By arguing that preach- 
ing human ability led on logically to perfectionism, Princeton theologians 
hoped to implicate in radicalism all those Presbyterians who had taken the 
side of Barnes, Beecher, and Duffield in the secession of 1837. 18 The 
warnings against fanaticism with which they filled the air after 1840 
forced New School leaders on the defensive about their most characteristic 

14 Frederic Dan Huntington, Christian Believing and Living (Boston, 1859), p. 424- see 
also pp. 427-28, 430-33. 

15 Much of the incidental criticism is evidence of his influence. See The Christian 
Register, March 20, 1858; The Watchman and Reflector, Oct. 21, 1858; Wheadey, op. cit., 
pp. 571-75, 578-79. Cf. James Challen, Baptism in Spirit and in Fire (Philadelphia, 1859), 
pp. 34- : 35, and similar criticisms (by a prominent Baptist pastor) in John Winebrenner 
History of All the Religious Denominations in the United States . . . (Harrisburs Pa 
1848), p. 48. 

16 Merrill Elmer Gaddis, Christian Perfectionism in America (unpublished Ph.D. dis- 
sertation, The University of Chicago, 1929), pp. 522-25 summarizes, with serious limita- 
tions in scope, the American perfectionist traditions. See "The Day of Pentecost," The 
Christian Union and Religious Memorial, II (1849), pp. 457-58. 

17 Fairchild, loc. cit., pp. 237, 247; Fletcher, Oherlin, I, pp. 223-24; Charles C. Cole, Jr., 
TheSodal Ideas of the Northern Evangelists, 1826-1860 (New York, 1954), pp. 66-68. 

18 J. C. Lord, "Finney's Sermons on Sanctification, and Mahan on Christian Perfec- 
tion," The Princeton Review, XUI (1841), pp. 231-32, 234-35; S. G. Winchester, "Perfect 
Sanctification," the same, XIV, (1842), pp. 426-27, 429, a review of W. D. Snodgrass 
The Scriptural Doctrine of Sanctification Stated and Defended Against the Error of Per- 
fectionism (Philadelphia, 1841), Warfield, Perfectionism, I, passim, is a later summary of 
the same arguments. 



doctrine, isolated them from the Oberlin evangelists and Oberlin from the 
Christian community, and supported during the next decade a powerful 
assault on free will, revivalism, and reform. At this point, for example, 
George Duffield turned away from both abolitionist and perfectionist rad- 
icalism and sought for the next twenty-five years to reconcile the Old and 
New School positions, 19 

That the preachers at the Ohio college reacted with an even stronger 
insistence on the doctrine of natural ability, hoping perhaps to identify 
their perfectionist gospel with the New School tradition, only compli- 
cated matters. They had at first taught, as did the Methodists, that entire 
sanctification was a gift of free grace, not a work of free will. In this way 
they reintroduced on a bold new level the Calvinist doctrine of depend- 
ance upon divine agency, which they had minimized in their explanation 
of conversion. The result was approximately the same synthesis between 
an ethic of grace and an ethic of holiness which Wesley set forth a hun- 
dred years before. "How many are seeking sanctification by their own 
resolutions and works, their fastings and prayers, their endeavors and ac- 
tivity," complained Finney in 1836. "It is all work, work, work, when it 
should be by faith. ... It is faith that must sanctify, it is faith that purifies 
the heart." The Old School attack, however, confronted the Oberlin 
faculty with the alternative of acknowledging their conversion to Meth- 
odism or marrying sanctification to the doctrine of natural ability. That they 
leaned toward the latter course is small surprise, 20 

As early as 1841 the notion of a second experience suffered contradic- 
tion because of this inclination. The youthful Professor William Cochran 

19 Fletcher, Obertin, I, p. 227; Fairchild, loc. tit., p. 244; Finney, Memoirs, pp. 343, 347- 
48; S. B. Canfield, An Exposition of the Peculiarities, Difficulties and Tendencies of 
Olerlin Perfectionism (Cleveland, 1841); Enoch Pond, "Christian Perfection, 11 American 
Biblical Repository, 1 (1839), 44-58; Nathaniel S. Folsom, ''Review of Mahan on 
Christian Perfection," the same, II (1839), pp. 143-66; Leonard D. Woods, "Examina- 
tion of the Doctrine of Perfection as held "by Asa Mahan . . . ," the same, V (1841), 
166-89; Lewis G. Vander Velde, ed., "Notes on the Diary of George Duffield," The Missis- 
sippi Valley Historical Review, XXIV (1937-38), p. 57; George Duffield, 'The Doctrines 
of the New School Preshyterian Church," Bibliotheca Sacra, XX (1863), p. 615. 

Significantly, some Old School men abandoned even the older view of sanctification 
through growth in grace; see J. C. Lord, Zoc. czt., pp. 236-37, and "Legal Holiness, and Not 
Gracious, That which God has Determined to Estahlish Throughout His Universe," The 
American Preshyterian Review, 1 (1852), pp. 275-89. 

80 Contrast Finney's Lectures to Professing Christians, pp. 362-63, and pp. 352-53, 364, 
376, 391, with his Views of Sanctification (1840), pp. 15-16, 61, 68 ff., 167-68, 171 ff. 
See the review of Calvinist protagonists of Oherlin hy George Peck in The Methodist 
Quarterly Review, XXIH (1841), 307-19, passim. 



expounded at a meeting of the alumni association that year his doctrine of 
"the simplicity of moral action," which declared every moral act perfect by 
definition. There could be no partial love, incomplete consecration, or im- 
perfect obedience. The biblical exhortation that Christians must, as Coch- 
ran's brother, Samuel, delightfully misquoted it, "purify their hearts by 
faith," referred to perfect obedience. This he called "faith of the Will," 
as distinguished from "faith of the Intellect." 21 The community responded 
favorably to this idea and each of the preachers, so President Fairchild 
tells us, readjusted somewhat his concept of sanctification to conform to it. 
Henry Cowles re-emphasized his earlier appeal that entire consecration to 
God is the condition of discipleship. John Morgan and Finney explained 
that the baptism of the Spirit gave permanence to the experience of be- 
lievers. Mahan and Finney stressed the illumination of the intellect it 
brought, the new light in which every true Christian would love to walk 
because his heart was perfect toward the Lord. 22 

Interestingly enough, the very first issues of The Independent contained 
a remarkable discussion of the questions Cochran had raised, provoked 
when Samuel Cochran received a call to the Sullivan Street Congrega- 
tional Church, New York. Ten distinguished ministers, including Henry 
Ward Beecher and George B. Cheever, withdrew from the ordination 
council after the youthful candidate had declared that "no man has any 
evidence that he is a Christian who is not in a state of perfect obedience/' 
A majority, however, representing the churches in the pro-Oberlin Evan- 
gelical Congregational Association of New York, "fully agreed with Mr. 
Cochran upon the subject of Christian perfection/' so the newspaper 
regretfully explained, and proceeded to ordain him minister. 23 

Afterward, two long editorials in The Independent argued that the Scrip- 
tures declare that regenerate persons enjoy only a relative and imputed per- 
fection, whereas the new pastor at Sullivan Street preached an actually 
sinless life. "If perfect obedience to the moral law is the condition of sal- 
vation/' the editors pointed out, "the great body of Christians must give 
up their hope. 1 * They did not distinguish, as Cochran had in an answering 

S1 Samuel D. Cochran, "Chalmers on the Romans, Views of Sanctification, " The 
Obertin Quarterly Review, I (1845), p. 461. The Scripture reference is to Acts 15:9, where 
the Holy Spirit s purifying work is tie theme. 

32 Tliis was Fairchild's interpretation in 1873, loc. tit., pp. 247, 252-55, and it may he 
somewhat forced; see pp. 249, 248-52, yassSm, and George Frederick Wright, Charles 
Gnmd^m Finney (Boston, 1891), pp. 319-22. Cf* John Morgan, "The Gift of the Holy 
Giiost, The Oberlin Quarterly Review. I (1845), pp. 100-02. 

$t The Independent, Dec. 28, 1848. 



letter, between the perfect law of God and one's immediate comprehension 
of it, nor between being saved and having evidence of it. The whole dis- 
cussion was, however, courteous and charitable. Far from rejecting the 
current aspirations for holiness, the editors encouraged them in these sig- 
nificant words: 

There is such a thing as Christian perfection perfection in the most absolute 
unqualified sense. This perfection is attainable, and should ever be our aim. 
We would urge our fellow Christians to it by all the motives of the word of 
God. . . . But while one may be a sincere Christian though he comes short of 
perfect obedience to the law of God, let it be remembered that no man can 
be a Christian who does not keep the commandments of Christ, who has not 
consecrated himself entirely to the service of the Lord, and who does not live 
in obedience to his commands. 24 

It is significant that President Mahan and Professor John Morgan ap- 
plied Cochran's concept of perfect obedience to the regenerate state and 
remained stanch pleaders for a second blessing. Mahan preferred to think 
that the higher experience subjugated rather than destroyed the propensi- 
ties for sin; but these were in his eyes emotional and physical, rather than 
a root principle of depravity, as with Wesley. He agreed with the Meth- 
odists, however, in distinguishing carefully between the perfection of the 
heart, attained through the baptism of the Spirit, and the perfection of 
character which comes only through growth in grace. And well he might; 
some members of the Oberlin faculty thought Mahan proud, censorious, 
and a poor advertisement for the doctrine he taught. 25 

Finney, moreover, drifted steadily back toward the Wesleyan position as 
years passed, though his primarily empirical description of the second ex- 
perience was rarely clear or consistent. The Oberlin community, Finney 
later explained, had first begun discussing sanctification as a "Bible ques- 
tion, ... an experimental truth, which we did not attempt to reduce to a 
theological formula . . . until years afterwards." By 1857 he was denounc- 

** "The Scriptural View of Perfection," The Independent, Jan. 11, 1849. Cf. Cochran's 
letter and its answer, published in the same issue, and the editorial of the previous week. 

For later examples of The Independent's interest in the subject see "The Theology of 
the Christian Register," Jan. 2, 1851; Henry Ward Beecher's very friendly review of 
Upham, Divine Union, Jan. 30, 1851; and "A First Visit to Oberlin," Sept. 25, 1851. 

2S Asa Mahan, "The Idea of Perfection," The Oberlin Quarterly Review, I (1845), pp. 
468, 476, 479-80; Morgan, "The Gift of the Holy Ghost/' the same, pp. 96, 111; Fletcher, 
Oberlin, I, pp. 472-88. Cf. Mahan, Out of Darkness Into Light . . . (Boston, 1876), pp 
263-80 and yassim. 



ing those wto "having begun in the Spirit . . . try to become perfect in the 
flesh." They rely more on human resolutions than on divine grace. "Men 
are sanctified by receiving Christ into the heart by f aith," he said. 'While 
you affirm your moral obligation, you are more and more oppressed with 
your moral weakness. But this weakness is what Christ counterbalances 
with his strength." 26 

The keynote of Finney's later crusades was the plea that Christians 
should consecrate themselves fully to the Lord. Everywhere he found them 
living in partial consecration and half-hearted love. A brave evangelist 
indeed would have been required to announce in the Park Street Church 
in 1857 that such persons had never really been converted before. The 
only practical alternative was to urge them to seek a higher work of 
grace. 27 On the other hand, the two of Finney's Lectures on Revivals 
which were rewritten for the edition of 1868, while making the doctrine 
of sanctification more prominent, stressed growth more than a crisis of 
experience. 28 

In any event, those who rejected the second blessing did not abandon 
the perfectionist ideal. Cochran's teaching simply propagated an exalted 
view of the first experience of grace. According to President Fairchild, the 
distinguishing doctrine of what came to be called by 1870 the "Oberlin 
Theology" was that "every believer is sanctified, in the sense that he has 
utterly renounced sin in this acceptance of Christ, and given Him his 
whole heart" 29 

Oberlin-trained advocates of both interpretations whetted the hunger 
for holiness which was for the next thirty years a dominant strain in Amer- 
ican Protestantism. Finney and Mahan ranged the cities of two continents 
preaching the power of the union of man's will and God's grace to con- 
secrate and to sanctify every believing soul. Finney's appearance at long 

19 Finney, Memoirs, p. 351; The Guide to Holiness, XXXII Only-December, 1857), pp. 
132-34. Of. the same, XXIX (January-June, 1856), pp. 67-68, and XXX (July-December, 
1856), pp. 48-50; Wright, Finney, pp. 321-22, and Fairchild, loc. tit., pp. 255-58. 

37 See accounts in Tke Guide to Holiness, XXXIII (January-June, 1858), p. 93; The 
Christian Register, March 20, 1858; and Finney, Memoirs, pp. 442, 473. Contrast Fletcher, 
op. dt., I, pp. 480-88. 

S8 Cf. Charles G. Finney, Lectures on Revivals of Religion (New York, 1868), pp. v, 
396, 401, 410, 416, 429-33 with the edition of the same work published in New York 
in 1835, pp. 398, 400-38, and passim. 

^Fairchiid, loc. *., p. 249. 

Merrill E. Caddis's dissertation, cited above, excluded Oberlinism as "quasi-perfection- 
ist," and ignored all who did not teach a second experience; Cross, Burned-Over District, 
pp. 249-50, does the same, but more defensibly, since his work was limited to the radical 



union meetings in Boston and New York in 1857 and 1858 signaled the 
collapse of antiperfectionist prejudices against Oberlin men, as well as a 
new appreciation of their stand against slavery. Meanwhile, a growing 
army of Revivalistic Calvinists who could not accept the second blessing 
adopted the view that true conversion made one entirely free from sin. In 
the awakenings which followed 1858 multitudes of them became convinced 
that their justification in God's sight must be confirmed by their sanctifi- 
cation in their own and the eyes of the world. The goals were similar, only 
the method proposed for reaching them varied. Both concepts contributed 
much to the new ethical seriousness which swept across American Prot- 
estantism on the eve of the Civil War. 

In retrospect, the quest for Christian holiness seems to have been a 
popular expression of strivings which on a more sophisticated level pro- 
duced the transcendentalist revolt of Emerson and Thoreau. That such 
diverse individuals as Horace Bushnell, Phoebe Palmer, Catherine and 
Edward Beecher, William E. Boardman, Asa Mahan, Frederic Dan Hunt- 
ington, and John Humphrey Noyes sought a higher life in the years be- 
tween 1835 and 1845 indicates a wide surge of thought and feeling of 
which the events at Oberlin were but a dramatic example. In earlier years 
the faculty at the Ohio college moved away from the Wesleyan fountain 
of their perfectionist faith in a vain attempt to marry the doctrine of holi- 
ness to the New School concept of natural ability. Generally, however, the 
evangelical emphasis upon sanctification by grace prevailed. The remark- 
able fact is that after 1845, as we shall see more clearly in the next two 
chapters, Christian perfectionism, far from being confined to a colony of 
frontier fanatics, gained ground steadily among thoughtful leaders of 
urban Protestantism. The best-loved hymn of the century reveals both 
the fervor and the faith which the movement caught up: 

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, 

Let me hide myself in Thee; 

Let the water and the blood, 

From Thy wounded side which flowed, 

Be of sin the double cure, 

Save from wrath and make we pure. 



in American Methodism 

Methodist perfectionism suffered less from variations in 
the doctrine of the will than did that at Oberlin. John Wesley and his 
early preachers understood moral ability to be the gift of God's "prevenient 
grace." Divine love had saved men from the extreme of depravity which 
otherwise would have been a consequence of the Fall; Christ had en- 
dowed every one with the capacity to respond to the gospel and be saved. 
Not natural ability but faith in the atonement unleashed the regenerating 
power of the Holy Spirit and raised penitents from the death of sinning 
to the new life of obedience to God's will. 

The progress of this new life was hindered, however, by the remains of 
the carnal nature within, the "seed" of sin, a bent toward evil perhaps 
most clearly described as a diseased condition of the soul Wesley thus 
considered original sin to be not so much guilt for Adam's transgression as a 
sinful condition stemming from it. He was less concerned with theological 
diagnosis of the malady than with declaring God's readiness to heal it 
initially in regeneration, entirely in the second crisis of Christian experience 
called "perfect love." * 

1 European students have led the way in recent explorations o Wesley's teaching. The 
Best study is Harold Lindstrom, Wesley and Sanctification, a Study in the Doctrine of 
Salvation (Stockholm, 1946). C R. Newton Flew, The Idea of Perfection in Christian 
Theology: an Historical Study of the Christian Ideal for the Present Life (London, 1934), 
pp. 313-42; William Edwin Sangster, The Path to Perfection; an Examination and He- 
statement of John Wesley's Doctrine of ChrisOan Perfection (New York, 1943); social 
implications of the doctrine in Wellman Joel Warner, The Wesleyan Movement in the 
Industrial Revolution. (London, 1930), pp. 61-72; and a recent Harvard dissertation 
George Allen Turner, The More Excellent Way: the Scriptural Basis of the Wesleyan 
Message (Winona Lake, Ind., 1952). 

Aside from George Croft Cell's discussion in The Rediscovery of John Wesley (New 
York, 1935) pp. 337-62, Americans, and particularly Methodists, have until recently ne- 

e tT e W Cf ^ f o? ampIe / Wade Crawford Barcla ^ Early American Methodism, 
, Vol. II, To Reform the Nation (History of American Methodism, Part I, 

, . , sory o mercan etosm, art , 

New Yo 1949) pp. 314-19, with William Warren Sweet, Methodism in American 

History (New York, 1933), pp. 341-45. 



Wesley chose this term because it exalted divine grace while at the same 
time emphasizing human responsibility to keep the highest ethical law, the 
Sermon on the Mount. Christ's love in Calvary, he believed, is not a sub- 
stitute but a foundation for our holiness. The end of the atonement is 
both to justify and sanctify men. He believed that gratitude for God's 
grace in conversion would impel earnest believers toward complete dedica- 
tion to Christ and at the same time induce discontent with their remaining 
inner bent to sin. Then, in response to their agonized soul-searching and 
consecration climaxed in a venture of complete trust which was itself half 
"works" and half a gift of grace, the "love of God," as the New Testament 
promised, would be shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit, "purify- 
ing their hearts by faith." Imperfect judgment, the passions and frailties 
common to men, temptation, and the possibility of falling into sin would 
remain real. But the bent of the soul would now be toward God's will, not 
away from it. 2 

Interestingly, Wesley never left a completely clear witness of his own 
enjoyment of perfect love, although he recorded, studied, and used as 
examples the testimonies of hundreds of others. Moreover, he so faith- 
fully emphasized the process of self-examination and consecration which 
preceded the experience and the godly discipline which must follow as to 
pose the question whether he really understood it to be achieved through 
spiritual growth rather than, as he often said, by a "second blessing, prop- 
erly so-called." Recent studies have demonstrated conclusively that Wesley 
did teach sanctification to be ' 'instantaneous," receivable "now, and by 
simple faith," though he did not rule out completely the possibility of its 
attainment through growth. 3 

Considerable evidence suggests that this doctrine did not occupy a chief 
place in early Methodist preaching in the New World, despite Bishop 
Francis Asbury's efforts to impress it upon his followers. The moral needs 
of rural and Western America directed attention to the more elemental 
work of saving sinners. 4 If the volume of literature devoted to the subject 

* See Rom. 5:5 and Acts 15:9. 

8 Lindstrom, Wesley and Sanctification} Peters, Christian Perfection and American 
Methodism (New York, 1955), pp. 27-66, 201-14; Turner, More Excellent Way, pp. 

* Peters, op. tit,, pp. 92-101, corrects Merrill E. Gaddis, Cliristian Perfectionism in 
America (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, The University o Chicago, 1929), pp. 223-309, 
on this point. C. A. Kent, "The Work of Holiness in New York Some Years Ago," The 
Guide to Holiness, XXXIII (January-June, 1858), pp. 20-21, 71-72, on the events of 



Is any Index, however, the interest in it which remained alive in urban com- 
munities increased rapidly after 1825. In that year Timothy Meiritt, a 
prominent minister in the New York City district, published his Treatise on 
Christian Perfection, with Directions for Obtaining That State, a little 
handbook which was to appear in thirty-three editions by 1871. Many 
similar works followed. Adam Clarke s Commentary and Richard Watson's 
Theological Institutes, both of which stressed the second blessing, ap- 
peared in America in the 1820's and became immensely popular "standard 
authors" with the Methodist clergy. 5 The bishops called for a revival of 
holiness at the General Conference of 1832. The pastoral address of the 
one held eight years later insisted that the usefulness and influence of the 
church depended upon it. "Let us not suppose it is enough to have this 
doctrine in our standards," wrote the church fathers; "let us labor to have 
the experience and power of it in our hearts." 6 

In 1835 the Tuesday Meeting in New York City, mentioned earlier, 
thrust Phoebe Palmer into a leading role. The weekly gathering was held 
in her home and confined to women until 1839, when Professor Thomas C. 
Upham's adherence made it seem providentially intended for men as well. 
Also that year Timothy Merritt resigned his positions as assistant editor of 
The Christian Advocate and Journal and denominational publishing agent 
to launch in Boston a monthly magazine, The Guide to Holiness, chiefly 
given over to reports of the testimonies heard at the meeting. Dr. Palmer 
twice moved to larger houses in order to accommodate the crowds who 
came from far and near. 7 

The news from Oberlin undoubtedly encouraged the growth of this 
interest, as did the secession in 1841 of Luther Myrick and the earliest 
band of Wesleyan Methodists in Western New York. The latter objected 
to both compromises on slavery and neglect of Christian perfection in the 

Timothy Meiritt, The Christian's Manual . . . (33rd ed., New York, 1871); Adam 
Clarke, The New Testament . . . with a Commentary and Critical "Notes . . . (rev. ed., 
New York, a.d.), 31, 105-07, 464, 555; and Richard Watson, Theological Institutes . . . 
(New York, 1840), H, 450-67. See also John Wesley, A. Watmough, and others, 
Entire Sanctification, or Christian Perfection, Stated and Defended (Baltimore, 1838); and 
Richard Treffry, A Treatise on Christian Perfection (London, 1838), both reviewed 
favorably in The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXIII (1841), 123-55; and Aaron 
Lumrntis, Essays on Holiness (New York, 1826), which first appeared serially in Zion's 

* Journals of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1840 and 
1844 (New York, 1844), H, 161; The Methodist Quarterly Review, XIV (1832), 346. 

T George Hughes, 'Fragrant Memories of the Tuesday Meeting and Guide to Holiness . . 
(New York, 1886), pp. 161-76; see earlier, p. 105. 



parent body. For a brief period around 1842, Oberlin and Methodist forces 
united in holiness conventions at New York City, Newark, Newburg, 
Buffalo, Rochester, and points farther west. 8 

Mrs. Palmer's many books spearheaded the popular propaganda of the 
perfectionist revival. The Way to Holiness, a narrative of her own experi- 
ence, sold 24,000 copies by 1851 and appeared in thirty-six editions before 
the Civil War. In 1859 her publishers were advertising a twenty-fourth 
edition of Faith and Its Effects a collection of her correspondence on the 
subject a twentieth edition of Entire Devotion first published serially a 
decade before in The Christian Advocate and Journal and a ninth of 
Incidental Illustrations of +he Economy of Salvation. In all her writings, 
as in the columns of the Guide, she combined constant personal testimony 
to the joys and privileges of entire sanctification with exhortations to be- 
lievers to lay hold upon the promised blessing by simple faith, 9 

Meanwhile, another monthly magazine, The Beauty of Holiness, began 
publication in Xenia, Ohio, and conference weeklies in many sections 
showed great interest in the theme. The Christian Guardian, organ of 
Canadian Methodism, printed serially the whole of Mrs. Palmer's Faith 
and Its Effects. 10 In Boston Daniel Wise launched his four-year term as 
editor of Zions Herald in 1852 with a strong emphasis upon sanctification. 
Not merely truth acting upon Christian wills, he wrote, but the super- 
natural agency of the Holy Spirit is the source of purity and power; every 

8 Ibid., pp. 24-35; Robert S. Fletcher, A History of Oberlin College, from Its Founda- 
tion through the Civil War (Oberlin, Ohio, 1943), I, 227-28; Richard Wheatley, 
The Life and Letters of Mrs. Phoebe Palmer (New York, 1876), pp. 571-72; George 

Hughes, The Beloved Physician, Walter C. Palmer, M.D (New York, 1884), pp. 241- 

44. John Peters, op. dt., pp. 109-20, outlines these developments correctly, though without 
help from most of the pertinent devotional and biographical sources. 

9 Hughes, Tuesday Meeting, p. 183, contains a complete bibliography of her works 
and a record of editions up to 1865. Cf. Wheatley, Phoebe Palmer, p. 532; and Phoebe 
Palmer, Promise of the Father} or a Neglected Specialty of the Last Days . . . (Boston, 
1859), advertisements on the back flyleaves. 

I have seen editions of her works as follows: Faith and Its Effects; or Fragments from 
My Portfolio (45th ed., New York, 1867); The Way of Holiness, -with Notes by the Way, 
Being a Narrative of Religious Experience Resulting from Determination to Be a Bible 
Christian (New York, 1851); Present to My Christian Friend: or, Entire Devotion (20th 
ed., Boston, 1859); and Incidental Illustrations of the Economy of Salvation, Its Doctrines 
and Duties (Boston, 1855). 

10 The Guide to Holiness, XXXIII (January-June, 1858), pp. 57-58. The review of 
the first issue of The Beauty of Holiness and Sabbath Miscellany in Zion's Herald, Dec, 
1, 1853, praised The Guide highly but welcomed the second journal. See also notices of 
the holiness emphasis in The Northwestern Christian Advocate, reorganized from The 
Michigan Christian Advocate that year, and The Nashville Advocate, in Zions Herald, 
Sept. 22 and Nov. 3, 1852. 



believer should exercise faith for Its immediate reception. 11 The newspaper 
promoted this view freely in the years following, almost without any 
recognition of the possibility that Methodists ever held another. It printed 
numerous testimonies of early Wesleyan preachers and praised camp meet- 
ings and revivals which featured holiness. 12 From the Plattsburgh, New 
York, district camp meeting, where several ministers received the blessing 
in 1854, one of them wrote: 

I united with the M. E. Church February 24th, 1819, and thought once or 
twice I tasted the perfect love of God. But I desire now to say it, to the praise 

of God: on Wednesday night, 12 P.M., God sanctified my soul in the Rusville 
tent. The Hood of Jesus Christ has cleansed my heart from all sin. 

A September editorial ivhich asked, "How Can the Benefits of the Camp 
Meeting Be Retained at Home," urged those who had "entered into the 
land of BEULAHj having their hearts 'purified by faith/ " to testify to the 
experience, but to remain cautious, "humble, melted, subdued in spirit/* 13 
The few professional evangelists in the denomination soon joined the 
crusade, swelling this stream of popular literature. John Newland Maffitt 
had shown little interest in holiness until his revival at the Bromfield 
Street Church, Boston, caught the crest of a spiritual wave which had origi- 
nated in the summer of 1842 at Eastham Camp Meeting on Cape Cod. 14 
Two or three years later James Caughey began a strikingly successful 
career in England and America which was fully recorded by the holiness 
press. His revivals in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, in 1852 seem to have 
awakened the enthusiasm for holiness among Canadian Methodists to 
which the Palmers later contributed much inspiration and guidance. 
Caughey 's many books provided plain people everywhere with dramatic 
calls to seek the blessing. 15 The same is true of William Taylor, who went 

11 Cf. "How Souk Are Purified" and "Faith an Element of Power/' Zion's Herald, Aug. 
25 and Sept. 8, 1852, with "Holiness Its Effects," the same, Apr. 21, 1852. 

13 See "Conversion of Believers Sanctification of Believers/' and "Holiness Why Men 
Are Not Holy/' the same, Aug. 16 and 30, 1854; and testimonies of Samuel Hicks, Henry 
Longden, and John Wesley, Sept. 2, 1852, Aug. 23, and Oct. 11, 1854. Cf. the issues of 
Aug. 23 and Sept. 6, 1854, for reports of the "German camp meeting" on the New York 
district, where fifteen were sanctified, of Martha's Vineyard camp, where Phoebe Palmer 
conducted services, and of the East Brooifield, Mass, encampment. 

"The same, Sept 1, 1852, and Sept. 27, 1854. 

14 Martin Moore, Boston Revival, 1842 . % . (Boston, 1842), pp. 109-12, 117-18, 124 
C John N. Maffitt, Pnlpit Sketches (Louisville, 1839), and AW Stevens, A Compendious 
History of American Methodism (New York, 1868), pp. 560-61. 

"W. J. Bkckstock, "The Work of Holiness in Canada/' The Guide to Holiness, 
XXXffl Qtmmiy-Jime, 1858), 57-59. See especially among Caughey's many volumes, 



with the forty-niners to become a free-lance prospector for God in the 
California mining towns. Taylor renewed an earlier association with the 
Palmers on his return in 1856. During the following three years he made 
annual tours of important camp meetings in the East and conducted re- 
vivals during the winter months in some of the finest Methodist churches 
in New York, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. In 1859 and 1860 
he blanketed the Midwest with hundreds of one-night stands, featuring 
evangelism and "news from California/* 16 

Securing the support of professional soul winners, always few in num- 
ber and hampered by the denomination's tight organization, was much less 
important, however, than enlisting pastors and ecclesiastical officials in the 
cause. The bishops expected every Methodist pastor to be an evangelist. 
All were, in fact, "traveling preachers/' to use the official phrase, appointed 
to a wide circuit for terms which rarely lasted more than two years. The 
bishops themselves were aggressively evangelistic. Elected periodically from 
the rank and file of the clergy, they wielded power and spiritual influence 
of immense proportions. They worked closely with the "presiding elders," 
who directly supervised the pastors and controlled such gatherings as the 
district or conference camp meetings. The revival of holiness could not 
get far without substantial encouragement from the top. 

That encouragement began early and increased steadily. 17 Bishops 
Thomas A. Morris and Elijah Hedding were long remembered for their 
advocacy of the experience in the early 1840's. 18 Bishops Edmund S. Janes 
and Leonidas Hamline, elected in 1844, were with their wives close friends 

Methodism in Earnest: the History of a Revival in Great Britain, in which Twenty 
Thousand Souls Professed Faith in Christ, and Ten Thousand Professed Sanctification 
(2nd. ed., Nashville, 1857); Helps to a Life of Holiness and Usefulness . . . (5th e d., 
Boston, 1852), pp. 165-97, and passim; and Showers of Blessing from Clouds of Mercy . . . 
(New York, 1868), pp. 339-58. Dr. Walter Palmer's firm in New York published the last 
of these, along with others as follows: Light in the Dark, through the Dominions of Un- 
belief . . . (I860); Arrows from My Quiver . . . (1867); Earnest Christianity Illustrated 
. . . (1868); and Glimpses of a Life in Soul-Saving (1868). Cf. Zion's Herald, Feb. 25 
and July 7 and 21, 1852, for glowing accounts of Caughey's work. 

ia William Taylor, Story of My Life . . . (New York, 1896), pp. 73-75, 218, 219-28, 
230-32, 244, 251; Hughes, Tuesday Meeting, pp. 155-57. 

17 Barclay, To Reform the Nation, pp. 339-40, W. M. Gewehr's review of Barclay's 
work in The American Historical Review, LVI (1951), p. 910, and Sweet, Methodism in 
American History, p. 341, suggest the opposite, as did earlier Merrill E. Gaddis, op, tit., 
p. 393 and passim. 

18 Thomas A. Morris, Sermons on Various Subjects (Cincinnati, 1841), pp. 41-44, 
302-04, 322-24, 378 ff. and passim; S.L.C. Coward, Entire Sanctification from 17-39 to 1900 
(Chicago, 1900), pp. 211-12; Matthew Simpson, Cyclopedia of Methodism , . . (Phila- 
delphia, 1878), pp. 440-41, 630-31. 



of Dr. and Mrs. Palmer. Typical of Harnline's role was a letter written in 
1845 to a recently sanctified pastor, urging him to "minister on this sub- 
ject day and night without remission" despite "reproach, contempt, per- 
secution, and every embarrassment that malice, and mischief can devise 
against us." Janes, who was for twenty-five years the most conservative and 
influential member of the board of bishops, prepared enthusiastic introduc- 
tions to two famous volumes explaining instantaneous sanctification. 19 
Osmon C. Baker and Matthew Simpson joined this group in 1852. Both 
were fervent heralds of higher piety, Simpson especially so after the Civil 
War, when he enjoyed the reputation of being America's greatest 
preacher. 20 

Nathan Bangs, however, came closer than any of these to being the out- 
standing Methodist of the first half of the century. Bangs repeatedly de- 
clined election as bishop, but served in turn as publishing agent, editor, 
and presiding elder in New York City until his death in 1852. He attended 
and presided over the Tuesday Meeting frequently, wrote continually for 
The Guide to Holiness, published an important volume of his own on the 
doctrine in 1851, and as presiding elder personally led its revival among 
the pastors in the national metropolis. 21 

Prominent intellectual leaders were meanwhile lending additional re- 
spectability to the movement. George O. Peck, editor of The Methodist 
Quarterly Review from 1840-48 and of the New York Christian Advocate 
and Journal for four years thereafter, kept the subject of Christian perfec- 
tion constantly before the readers of these periodicals. His lectures de- 

19 L. L. Hamline, Cincinnati, Dec. 13, 1845, to Rev. C. W. Lean, in "Bishops Auto- 
graphs and Portraits, 1789-1897," a bound ms. volume in the library of Garrett 
Seminary. See Janes's introduction in Randolph Sinks Foster, Christian Purity (2nd. ed,, 
New York, 1854); and "Life and Works of Hamline," The Methodist Quarterly Review, 
LXffl (1881), pp. 15, 16, 25. Walter Palmer edited the Life and Letters of Leonidas L. 
Hamline, D.D. (New York, 1880) as a token of their friendship. See also Leonidas L. 
Hamline, The Works of Rev. Leonidas L. Hamline (F. G. Hibbard, ed., New York, 1871), 
pp. 135, 147, 166, 180, 204, and 347-493, passim; and Hughes, Beloved Physician, p. 242. 

*John A. Wood, Perfect Love (Lcniisville, 1880), p. 121; George Hughes, Days of 
Power in the Forest Temple . . . (Boston, 1874), p. 65; and A. McLean and Joel W. Eaton, 
eds., Penuel, or Face to Pace 'with God (New York, 1869), pp. 381-85, 468. 

al Nathan Bangs, The Necessity, Nature, and Fruits of Sanctification (New York, 1851) 
and his The Present State, Prospects and Responsibilities of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church (New York, 1850) won favorable comment for their holiness teachings in The 
Methodist Quarterly Review, XXXIH (1851), 164-65, 333; see p. 59 in the latter work. 
Cf. Nathan Bangs, "Christian Perfection," The Guide to Holiness, XIX (January-June, 
1851), pp. 37, 49, 74, 121, and XX (July-December, 1851), pp. 25, 49, 73, 86, 109, 121; 
and Abel Stevens, Life and Times of Nathan Bangs, pp. 52-59, 117-18, 345-47, 350-53, 



livered In several New York City churches on the occasion of the Oberlin 
excitement were published in 1841 and passed through ten editions before 
the Civil War. 22 Abel Stevens' first historical work, which appeared in 
1850, bore his conclusion that the success of early American Methodism 
was due to the entire consecration of its preachers to Christ. His later writ- 
ings repeated the same message, especially the famous biography of his close 
personal friend, Nathan Bangs. 23 Wilbur Fisk, the first president of Wes- 
leyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, and Stephen Olin, who suc- 
ceeded him in 1842, actively promoted the experience both among their 
students and at Methodist camp meetings. Fisk had been sanctified at 
Wellfleet camp meeting, Cape Cod, in 1819, after a sermon by Timothy 
Merritt, and lay five hours "under the power of the Holy Ghost." 24 

Randolph Sinks Foster, author of a famous holiness apology first printed 
in 1851, Christian Purity, Its Nature and Blessedness, thereafter divided 
his time until his election as a bishop in 1872 between New York City 
pastorates, the presidency of Garrett Biblical Institute, Evanston, Illinois, 
and a professorship and finally the presidency at the new seminary which 
Daniel Drew endowed at Madison, New Jersey, 25 Jesse T. Peck, a younger 
brother of the editor, published an equally popular volume in 1856, which 
maintained that the doctrine of entire sanctification was central not only 
to Methodism but to the whole tenor of Christian theology. He, too, was 
elected a bishop in 1872. 26 

8fl George O. Peck, The Scripture Doctrine of Christian Perfection Stated and Defended 
. . . (New York, 1842), pp. 4-6. Among the important articles, some of them no doubt his 
own, see in The Methodist Quarterly Review, "Christian Perfection," XXffl (1841), pp. 
123-55, 307-19; "Wesleyan Perfectionism," XXV (1843), pp. 447-61; and "Dr. Upham's 
Works," XXVDI (1846), pp. 248-65. C. George O. Peck, The Life and Times of George 
O. Peck, D.D. (New York, 1874), pp. 207-11. 

28 See Stevens, Nathan Bangs, pp. 117-18, 345-47; the same author's Memorials of 
the Early Progress of Methodism in the Eastern States (Boston, 1852), pp. 104, 126-29, 
429, 491-92; and his Compendious History, pp. 458-61, 566. 

* 4 Joseph Holdrich, The Life of Wilbur Fisk, D.D., First President of Wesl&yan Uni- 
versity (New York, 1842), p. 72; "The Death of President Olin," The Methodist Quarterly 
Review, XXXIII (1851), p. 654; John McClintock, "Stephen Olin," the same, XXXVI 
(1854), pp. 17-18; Abel Stevens, Compendious History, pp. 458-61; and Abel Stevens, 
History of the Methodist Episcopal Church in The United States of America (New York, 
1864-67), IV, 294. Cf. Hughes, Beloved Physician, p. 242. 

25 Randolph S. Foster, Nature and Blessedness of Christian Purity (New York, 1851), 
was revised in Christian Purity; or, the Heritage of Faith . . . (New York, 1869). Cf. 
Simpson, Cyclopedia of Methodism, pp. 371-72. 

"Jesse T. Peck, "Holiness," The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXXffl (1851), 
505-29 is a commendatory review of Foster, Christian Purity, containing, pp. 507-18, the 
germ idea of Peck, The Central Idea of Christianity (Boston, 1856). The latter volume 



Such books multiplied rapidly. Possibly the most famous of all came 
from the pen of a scholarly, fervent Englishman, William Arthur, who firt 
won friends in America through a tour to raise funds for Irish Wesleyanism. 
His Tongue of Fire, which urged that the baptism of the Spirit was the 
source of power for both personal holiness and social service, had sold 
several editions in England before its simultaneous publication in 1856 
for northern and southern branches of the American church. 27 

The rising level of ministerial education seems, in fact, to have aided 
the widespread rediscovery of the experience of early Methodist saints. 
Frontier circuit riders had been compelled, despite Asbury's injunction 
to the contrary, to practice an unfortunate literalization of Wesley's ad- 
vice that they be "men of one book." Settled pastorates provided them with 
the opportunity to cultivate more carefully the piety of their members and 
with a chance to read more books. It is not surprising that they began with 
the journals and other writings of Fletcher and Wesley and the lives of 
their early preachers. The same was true of students at the first Methodist 
theological seminaries at Concord, New Hampshire, Connecticut Wes- 
leyan, Drew, and Garrett All these institutions were centers of perfection- 
ist fervor during their earliest years, 

The remarkable fact is how closely Walter and Phoebe Palmer were 
associated with the church leaders who encouraged the holiness awakening. 
Years later John P. Newman, soon to be a bishop, declared to an assembly 
of dignitaries celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Tuesday Meeting 
that Mrs. Palmer was "the Priscilla who taught many an Apollos 'the way 
of God more perfectly/" No other Christian woman of the century, he 
believed, had exerted a comparable influence. Educators like Stephen 
Olin and John Dempster the latter, founder of Concord and Garrett 

received favorable treatment in turn from Wesley Kenney, of the Philadelphia Conference, 
in The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXXIX (1857), 84-104. 

87 William Arthur, The Tongue of fire; or the True Power of Christianity (New York, 
1880), pp. 52-57, 128-32. See also the same author's Addresses Delivered in New York, 
with a Biographical Sketch of the Author (P. Strickland, ed., New York, 1856), pp. 153-88. 

Among the popular handbooks were William McDonald, The New Testament Standard 
of Piety (Boston, 1861); Thomas Ralston, Elements of Divinity (Louisville, 1847), chapters 
29-30; and S. D. Akin, Christian Perfection ... an Essay Containing the Substance of Mr. 
Fletcher's Last Check to Antinomianism (Louisville, 1860). 

See also the emphasis upon sanctification in Davis W. Clark, ed., Methodist Episcopal 
Pulpit: a Collection of Original Sermons from Living Ministers of the M. E, Church 
(New York, 1850), sermons by Noah Levings, financial secretary of the American Bible 
Society, pp. 137, 141-46, 151-53, Ferderick Merrick, a professor at Ohio Wesleyan Uni- 
versity, 136, Nathan Bangs, 343, 348, 350, 353, and others by less prominent figures, 
404, 412-13 and passim. 



seminaries as well as Bishops Janes, Hamline, and Peck, Newman said, 
were members of the great company which had "thronged her parlors" 
and "followed her teachings into 'perfect rest/ " 28 Hamline and Stephen 
Olin were certainly sanctified under her guidance in the early 1840's, and 
possibly Janes as well. Nathan Bangs had been her class leader in her 
youth and remained throughout his life an admirer and close personal 
friend, 29 Randolph S. Foster sought her advice on the experience while 
still a member of the Cincinnati Conference and wrote Christian Purity 
to celebrate his attainment of it after he came to be pastor of a New York 
City congregation. 30 

Undoubtedly Dr. Palmer's generosity toward benevolent enterprises ex- 
tended their influence. He was for many years a member of the board of 
managers of the Methodist Missionary Society. Together the physician and 
his wife seem to have conceived and made the first substantial contribu- 
tions for the China and Palestinian missions. Their hospitality, too, was a 
byword among Methodist ministers. The evening meal which followed 
the Tuesday Meeting invariably included guests from out of town often 
as not conference and educational leaders stopping in New York on official 
business. 31 

Beginning about 1850, the Palmers spent half of each year at Meth- 
odist camp meetings and revivals in the Eastern United States and Canada. 
Since they did not usually accept remuneration, the doctor returned to his 
medical practice during the winter and spring months and his wife to the 
leadership of the weekly gathering in their home. Wherever they went, 
their great prestige with the bishops and church officials enabled these two 
laymen to win the confidence of the Methodist ministry. Presiding elders 
usually welcomed them; hundreds of ministers professed sanctification in 
their camp meetings and returned home to set their circuits aflame with 

38 Quoted from The Northern Christian Advocate in, Tuesday Meeting, p. 149. 
Cf. Stevens, Nathan Bangs, 352. 

80 Wheatley, Phoebe Palmer, pp. 549, 551; Hughes, Beloved Physician, pp. 67-70, 176- 
80; Stevens, Nathan Bangs, pp. 350-53, 368, 370, 383, 390, 395; The Guide to Holiness, 
XXX (July-December, 1856), p. 112. See especially Stephen Olin to Dr. and Mrs. Walter 
Palmer, Nov. 29, 1841, and July 17, 1844, quoted in Julia M. Olin, ed., Life and Letters 
of Stephen Olin (New York, 1853), II, pp. 43, 45, 197-98; and also II, pp. 32-34, 191-92. 

80 Simpson, Cyclopedia of Methodism, pp. 372-73; The Guide to Holiness, XVII (1850), 
pp. 82 ff.; Hughes Tuesday Meeting, p. 10. Harris Elwood Starr wrote the sketch oi Foster 
for the D.A.B. 

81 Hughes, Beloved Physician, pp. 58, 84-88. 



holy zeal. 82 While they were awaiting passage in 1858 at Halifax, Nova 
Scotia, for a four years' crusade in England, a holiness revival broke out 
which spread to all the major cities of the Maritime Provinces, delaying 
their departure many weeks. 83 On their return, Dr. Palmer purchased and 
combined The Guide and The Beauty of Holiness, making his wife editor 
in chief. Circulation soon rose from thirteen thousand to thirty thousand 
monthly. The magazine which so long had sung Phoebe Palmer's praises 
now carried her optimism and faith to the ends of the earth. 34 

Though Mrs. Palmer so eschewed feminist causes as to leave her name 
off the title page of most of her books, she inevitably inspired many women 
to Christian activity. Mrs. Thomas C. Upham was the first to organize 
in her home at Brunswick, Maine, a counterpart of the Tuesday Meeting. 
Others followed. In the revival of 1858 important ones were reported in 
full swing in Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, and Trenton, along 
with five in New York and two in Boston. Overseas reports of Mrs. 
Palmer's meeting in The Guide inspired a London lady "peculiarly 
adopted, by social position, great personal worth, and deep spirituality" to 
take the lead in establishing a weekday gathering there. Numbers soon 
sprang up all over the United Kingdom. In 1865 Mrs. Hamline initiated 
at Evanston, Illinois, the most influential of such meetings in the West. 
She had moved there following her husband's death. By 1886 238 were 
in operation, including 15 in Philadelphia, 14 in Boston, 12 in Baltimore, 
7 in Toronto, and others in every major city in the United States and 
a half-dozen foreign countries. These intimate little gatherings brought 
together the most earnest Christians of all evangelical sects under the leader- 
ship of women, an ideal situation for the propagation of perfectionist re- 
ligion. 35 

The gospel" of Christian holiness thus became a chief strain in the 

"Wheatley, Phoebe Palmer, pp. 325-26. CL The Guide to Holiness, XXX (July- 
December, 1856), pp. 112, 132; XXXI (January-June, 1857), pp. 1-3; and XXXIV (July- 
December, 1858), p. 178. 

* s Hughes, Beloved Physician, pp. 164-224, describes these years in great detail. See also 
Wheatley, Phoebe Palmer, pp. 337-45, and Phoebe Palmer, Four Years in the Old World 
. . . (New York, ca. 1865). 

* 4 Hughes, Tuesday Meeting, pp. 175-76. The account of Palmer's publishing business 
other than the Guide is in the same author's Beloved Physician, p. 243. 

"See The Guide to Holiness, XXXII (July-December, 1857), 159; and XXXIV 
(July-December, 1858), 94-95; Hughes, Tuesday Meeting, pp. 97, 142-43; Henry B. 
Ridgaway, The life of the Rev. Alfred Cookman . . . (New York, 1874), pp. 258-59, 292, 
346; W. H. Daniels, The Illustrated History of Methodism . . . (New York, 1880), pp. 



melody of mid-century Methodism. But precise orchestration of the theme 
produced occasional discords. The controversy over testimony and termi- 
nology, which first came to a head in 1852 and again in 1856, and the 
Free Methodist schism of 1859 illustrate its divisive properties. 

Professing sanctification is a delicate task wherever men are sensitive 
to the Christian virtue of humility, especially if its witnesses acknowledge 
in themselves faults which onlookers might call sins. In the popular semi- 
fictional novel, The Methodist, an old minister advised the hero that al- 
though perfect love was a noble and scriptural quest, he must be careful of 
those who make a specialty of it. No one is "required to profess it in order 
to continue in the blessing," he said, and many "who do not dream of 
possessing it" display its evidences more than some who do. 36 

Practically, however, such profession was indispensable to the spread of 
the holiness revival, a fact evident in every piece of its literature. When 
Bishops Hamline, Janes, and Hedding neglected in the !840's to urge 
public testimony to it, they suffered sharp rebuke from their friend Mrs. 
Palmer. They were in this respect following John Wesley's example, 
though not his advice to others. But she knew that few Methodists in 
America had actually attained perfect love until a militant, joyous group 
began to bear witness to it. By 1867 when Bishop Janes wrote the intro- 
duction for Phoebe Palmers famous collection of personal experiences, one 
of a long and influential cycle, her views had won out. 37 

Belief in the immediate availability of sanctification through faith in 
Christ underlay these testimonies and formed their chief evangelistic con- 
tent. In order to illustrate and simplify this notion, Mrs. Palmer developed 
about 1847 the "altar phraseology," as it came to be known, using Paul's 
figure of placing oneself as a 'living sacrifice" on the altar of God to repre- 
sent complete consecration. The altar, she reasoned, is Christ, the Sancti- 
fier himself. The altar sanctifies the gift. Whoever was conscious, therefore, 

" Miriam Fletcher, The Methodist; or Incidents and Characters from Life in the Balti- 
more Conference (New York, 1859), I, 171-72. C. Daniel Curry, Life-Story of Davis 
Wasgatt Clark, D.D., Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church (New y or k, 1874), pp. 

* T Curry, op. dt.; Wheadey, Phoebe Palmer, pp. 550-54; Phoebe Palmer, ed., Pioneer 
Experiences, or the Gift of Power Received Toy Faith . . . (New York, 1867), pp. i-v. 
Hamline had long since changed his mind. 

D. S. King, who succeeded Timothy Merritt as editor of The Guide to Holiness, edited 
the first such volume of testimonies, The Riches of Grace . . . (Boston, 1848), a Book 
matched in England by John Eyre, ed., Full Sanctifcatfon Realized . . . (London, 1849). 



that he was fully committed to Christ, "all on the altar," might at that 
moment believe he was sanctified by faith. 

The distinction between the "witness of the Spirit" and the exercise of 
faith for the experience was blurred by this teaching. But it nonetheless 
released immense optimism by doing away with the chief emotional barrier 
keeping conscientious seekers from the blessing. When Bishop Hamline 
expressed misgivings, Mrs. Palmer wrote him that upon her discovery of 
this truth, she felt that if she were "possessed of a million souls, stained 
with the most dire pollutions/' she could "as confidently bring them to 
the Christian altar" as she could bring one. 38 

Others beside the good bishop were perturbed. In an otherwise warm 
defense of the general tenor of her work, written in 1848, Nathan Bangs 
expressed unwillingness to subscribe to the correctness of all of Mrs. 
Palmer's terminology. 39 In 1854 when a writer who signed himself "Ida" 
declared in Zions Herald that earnest seekers for the blessing sinned by not 
believing that they received it, regardless of the state of their inner con- 
sciousness, Hiram Mattison, recent editor of the Genesee Conference 
Weekly and an opponent of all holiness testimony, replied in two long 
articles which brought the controversy into the open. The whole idea of 
"only believing," he declared, was a dangerous perversion of what he 
claimed was Wesley 's view that the witness of the Spirit was essential to 
entire sanctification and would only follow a long period, perhaps years, of 
striving. The editor, Daniel Wise, refuted Mattison sharply, affirming that 
faith placed in God's ability to fulfill his promise of holiness and in his 
willingness to perform it now was neither un-Wesleyan nor unscriptural. 40 

The next year Tobias Spicer, of the Troy Conference, who could not 
be accused of disbelief in the experience, renewed the discussion in The 
Christian Advocate and Journal, the New York Methodist weekly. Spicer 
attacked the "religious sentimentality" of urging seekers to Relieve that ye 
have it and ye have it." Mrs. Palmer and others replied with some justice 

88 Wheatley, Phoebe Palmer, pp. 532-36. Cf. Rom. 12:1-2. 

** Stevens, Nathan Bangs, p. 351. For other echoes of disapproval see the review of 
Eyre, Sanctification Realized in The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXXH Q850), 154; 
and the same, XXXIV C1852), 484. Cf. Wheatley, Phoebe Palmer, pp. 587-88, and 
generally pp. 405-6, 516-17, 583-85. 

40 See "Why Are You Not Wholly Sanctified*" Zion's HeraU, Sept. 20, 1854; Hiram 
Matron's answer, the same, Oct. 25 and Nov. 1, 1854; "Prof. Mattison vs. Ida," the 
same, Nov. 15, 1854. Cf. the editorial, "Saving Faith," Aug. 16, 1854, insisting that sancti- 
fication Mows faith "but is not identical with it. and J, H. Wallace, Entire Holiness 
(Auburn, N. Y., 1853), pp. 3-6, 73-74. 



that they did not teach this. A Christian must be conscious of utterly com- 
plete consecration, of being "all on the altar/' before he may exercise such 
trust. Moreover, the faith was placed not in his own experience but in 
"Christ the altar" and the word of God. 41 

The issue was a thorny one, however, and would not die. As late as 
March 10, 1857, after a long period of praying for guidance a warm friend 
of Mrs. Palmers, Nathan Bangs, appeared at the Tuesday Meeting for 
the specific purpose of refuting the notion that Christians may believe 
they have the experience before they have the Spirit's witness to it. Wesley, 
he said, had considered the faith by which we are sanctified to be "in- 
separably connected with a divine evidence and conviction that the work 
is done." Hence the "altar phraseology" was unsound, unscriptural, anti- 
Wesleyan and no doubt in many cases had caused deception. The im- 
portance which Bangs attached to the event is indicated in the written 
charge he left with his diary that if any of it were ever published, the 
passage reporting the incident must be included verbatim.* 2 

Meanwhile, Merritt Caldwell, a layman and educator in Maine, pro- 
posed a novel terminology of another sort. He believed man was sinful 
less from the fact that he was depraved than deprived, "constitutionally 
destitute of the love of God, as a controlling principle of his nature." 
Depravity results from the fact that the natural appetites and passions find 
unrestrained indulgence in our early lives and thus warp the personality 
with habits of sin. The converted believer was still subject to these twisted 
tendencies until he received the second blessing. Caldwell thus conceived 
entire sanctification to be a harmonizing rather than a cleansing grace in 
contrast with, for example, Nathan Bangs's emphasis upon the eradication 
of the "roots of bitterness." 43 

The pastoral address of the General Conference of 1852 attempted to 

41 See the article signed "T. S." on "Self-Deception," The Christian Advocate and 
Journal, Aug. 2, 1855, and the rejoinder in the issue of Sept. 20, 1855. Cf. "Believing 
and Knowing," The Guide to Holiness, XXXI (January-June, 1857), 11; the same, 
XXXII (July-December, 1857), 59-61; Phoehe Palmer, "The Act of Faith By which 
the Blessing Is Obtained and Retained," in J. Boynton, Sanctifcation Practical . . . (New 
York, 1867), pp. 115-29; and Tohias Spicer, The Way from Sin to Sanctification, Holiness 
and Heaven (4th ed., New York, 1857), which otherwise seriously urged Christians to 
seek and obtain the blessing. 

** Stevens, Nathan Bangs, pp. 396-402, quotes Bangs's journal for March 15, 1857, 

" Merritt Caldwell, The Philosophy of Christian Perfection . . . (Philadelphia, 1848); 

The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXXIV (1852), pp. 589-91; the same, XXX (1848), pp. 

148-56, 293-323; and Nathan Bangs's sermon in Clark, ed., Methodist Episcopal Pulpit, 

p. 353. Cf. Peters, Christian Perfection, pp. 58-59, 112-14, 121-24, on these controversies. 



check innovations in both directions. "The crowning work of the Spirit 
of holiness," wrote the fathers of the church, 

is to sanctify believers wholly their whole spirit, soul, and body and to pre- 
serve them blameless until death. We would therefore exhort you, dear 
brethren, that the doctrine of entire sanctification or entire "holiness be not 
confined to our standards: but that it may be a matter of experience in our 
hearts, and may be constandy practised in our lives. We advise you, in speaking 
or writing of holiness, to follow the well-sustained views, and even the phrase- 
ology employed in the writings of Wesley and Fletcher, which are not super- 
seded by the more recent writers on this subject. Avoid both new theories, new 
expressions, and new measures on this subject, and adhere closely to the 
ancient landmarks.' 44 

An ecclesiastical pronouncement, however, could neither make some hum- 
ble men testify to holiness nor relieve the embarrassment of those who 
could not if they would. For the latter, that version of the Oberlin doc- 
trine which declared regenerate persons already sanctified offered obvious 
attractions. Besides, they reasoned, had not Wesley clearly preached that 
sanctification began at conversion? 

In 1854 Davis W. Clark, editor of The Ladies Repository, a popular 
family magazine which the denomination sponsored, began stressing this 
aspect of the founder's teaching. The event might have passed unnoticed 
had he not in a biography of Bishop Hedding, published the next year, 
emphasized the latter's refusal to testify to perfect love so strongly as to 
question whether Hedding really thought he experienced it. Nathan Bangs 
responded sharply in The Christian Advocate and Journal. The editor of 
The Beauty of Holiness, then published at Delaware, Ohio, printed a col- 
lection of quotations from Clark's writings purporting to show that he had 
entirely rejected the Wesleyan doctrine. What Daniel Curry, Clark's 
biographer and until much later an avowed opponent of the second bless- 
ing, called "a most unedifying controversy" erupted in the church news- 
papers and spilled over into numerous pamphlets and books. Perhaps 
Curry felt so because Clark finally defended himself with a statement of 
his belief in Christian perfection so clear and strong that but for the con- 

*ew Yori, 1856) 160 ConferenC * * the M& hodist Episcopal Church, 1848-1856 



troversy, Curry thought, 'Tie would have been canonized among its con- 
fessors." 45 

Meanwhile in the Genesee Conference of western New York the long 
and bitter conflict over holiness which resulted in the organization of the 
Free Methodist Church was approaching a crisis. As early as 1848 com- 
plaints appeared that the "less spiritual" clergymen of Buffalo and other 
cities were joining the Odd Fellows and other secret orders and neglecting 
the quest of Christian perfection. These charges grew in the following 
years to include worldiness and love of money, compromises on slavery, 
political domination of the conference through secret societies and in- 
fluence over the bishops, and, finally, theological liberalism. The radi- 
calism, anti-Masonry, and abolitionism indigenous to the "burned-over 
region" thus burst forth anew and continuous revivals in rural portions 
of the conference combined with holiness camp meetings of immense size 
to fan the flames. Perfect love never seemed so unworthy of its name to 
the cultivated pastors of weathly city congregations who now moved to 
throttle the movement. 46 

The editor of The Northern Christian Advocate, Seth Mattison, led 
the attack until 1852, when the General Conference replaced him with 
William Hosmer, an abolitionist and champion of holiness. However, in 
1856 F. G. Hibbard, a more neutral person, gained the post, and Hosmer's 
friends united to form The Northern Independent and place him in 
charge. 47 Every annual conference after 1854 evoked a trial of strength 
between the "Nazarites," as the radicals were called, and the "Buffalo 
Regency." Whether the latter group engineered the removal of presiding 
elders from the affected districts is not clear. Several did go; but those 

45 Curry, Davis W. Clark, p. 167; see generally pp. 157-61, 164-66. Cf. Wesley Kenney, 
loc. dt., pp. 92-97. 

* p, w. Conable, History of the Genesee Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church ... to the Year 1872 . . . (New York, 1876), pp. 618, 620-21, 635-36, agrees 
at these points, despite other wide differences, with the official apology for Free Methodism, 
Wilson T. Hogue, History of the Free Methodist Church of 'North America (Chicago, 
1915), I, pp. 19-24, 33, 1Z5-26, 129, 130 ff., 149-50. In numerous excerpts from con- 
temporary documents Hogue, I, pp. 19, 24, 30-32, 33-35, 106-8, 110-11, 118, 161-62 
demonstrates that the founders of his church felt that secret society membership, slavery 
compromise, and worldliness in dress and behavior were the chief evidences of the un- 
consecrated condition of their opponents. See also, "Dress: a Word to Ministers/* The 
Guide to Holiness, XXXII (July-December, 1857), 143-44, signed by "J. D.," Binghamton, 

47 Hogue, Free Methodist Church, I, p. 29; Wheatley, Phoebe Palmer, pp. 551-54; 
Stevens, Nathan Bangs, pp. 321-22. Cf. William Hosmer, Slavery and the Church 
(Auburn, N. Y., 1853), p. iii. 



appointed in the hope that they would "stamp out fanaticism" often became 
themselves seekers of the blessing. 48 

Early in 1857 Benjamin T. Roberts, one of the more aggressive young 
men and a convert of Phoebe Palmer, published in The Northern Inde- 
pendent an article denouncing the dominant group for their worldliness 
and doctrinal laxity. He was tried and convicted by the conference for 
unchristian conduct, sentenced to be reproved by the bishop, and appointed 
to a miserable rural circuit. At the next annual conference his alleged 
help in distributing a libelous pamphlet printed in his defense produced 
a new charge, disobedience to discipline. Roberts was expelled from the 
ministry and from membership in the church, along with J. M. McCreery, 
Jr. Both appealed to the General Conference, scheduled to meet at Buffalo 
in May, I860. 49 

Meanwhile, they accepted the comforting support of a sizeable move- 
ment of laymen who, with the encouragement of several ministers still 
in the conference, were organizing for the protection of "the sacred doc- 
trines of Methodism/' Tensions had reached an explosive stage when 
Bishop Simpson, as much a believer in discipline as in holiness, arrived 
to preside over the Genesee Annual Conference in 1859. A large delega- 
tion of visiting ministers was present. Some of these who were sympathetic 
to the perfectionist men boldly organized a camp meeting at the outskirts 
of the town. The episcopal power, however, was sufficient to subdue the 
challengers. Four other clergymen were dismissed, several withdrew, and 
many of the visitors united in a statement approving the action. Charac- 
teristically, however, Simpson closed the conference with an exhortation 
which rebuked coldness and formality in worship. "Hearty prayers and 
responses," he said, and "praising God aloud" were "the privilege of his 
children" and fully in harmony with the spirit of Methodism. 

The next spring the General Conference denied the appeals of Roberts 
and McCreery, after a debate which only skirted the issue of sanctification. 
Several thousand laymen and more than a score of ministers thereafter 

* 8 Hogue, op. tit., I, pp. 34-35, contains B. T. Roberts's account; see also pp. 74, 76-79. 
Cf. Conable, op. cit, pp. 616-17. A. A. Phelps, "Memoir of William C. Kendall, A. M.," 
The Guide to Holiness, XXXIV (1858), pp. 80-81, 97-99, 132-34, 161-63 commemorates 
one of the discharged presiding elders; cf. Hogue, I, pp. 80-82, and Conable, op. cit., 
pp. 626-27. 

"Conable, Genesee, pp. 643-47, 657; Hogue, the same, I, pp. 69-72, 146-51, 162-80, 
passim. Hogue prints the offending article, "New School Methodism," pp. 96-103. Cf. 
Hughes, Tuesday Meeting, p. 147. 



found their way into the Free Methodist Church, and the membership of 
the Genesee Conference declined nearly one third in the next six years. 50 

There is little to substantiate the "official" Methodist version of the 
controversy. It alleged that the holiness leaders were fanatics who organized 
a secret society of their own for the purpose of destroying the reputations 
of other ministers, and who conducted camp meetings amid scenes of un- 
restrained emotionalism. Roberts' later writings on the doctrine of sane- 
tification were certainly far from fanatical. They emphasized the ideal of 
perfect character, toward which he believed perfect love and all other 
authentic religious experiences tend. He seems also to have denied the 
eradication of the carnal mind, though this may have arisen from his con- 
fused terminology. "A man has but one mind, one intellect, one soul/' he 
wrote; when sanctified wholly, "his mind, his will is so changed that 
earthly things lose their attractions" but "'the carnal mind* is never so 
destroyed as to do away with the freedom of the will." 51 

The Free Methodist contention that their exclusion was proof that Wes- 
ley's followers had abandoned their founders cardinal doctrine is, on the 
other hand, equally inaccurate. A chief concern of the General Conference 
of 1860 was to keep the "border conferences" in Kentucky, Mary- 
land, West Virginia, and Missouri within the denomination, and hence 
to contribute so its leaders hoped to the campaign to prevent the 
secession of those states from the national union. Sustaining an appeal 
from abolitionists, even sanctified ones, would hardly serve this purpose. 
The motion to dismiss the committee appointed to consider the difficulties 
in Genesee was, in fact, carried after one of the Buffalo group proclaimed 
his adherence to states' rights in politics and conference rights in the 
church, and a delegate from the Baltimore Conference responded with an 
appeal which set off a wave of speeches in its support! 52 

The Bishops' Address presaging this action was remarkably mild. After 
reproving those "whose presentation of the doctrine of Christian perfection" 
had recently varied from the standard Methodist authors "in the terms and 

50 C. Conable, op. dt., pp. 650-51, 653-60, passim, with Hogue, op. at., I, 115, 
193-207, 248-64, 294-96, 319, 322. 

81 Benjamin T. Roberts, Holiness Teachings Compiled from the Editorial Writings of 
the Late Rev. Benjamin T. Roberts (North Chili, N. Y., 1893), pp. 209, 212, 241-42. 
Concerning matters referred to earlier in the paragraph, Hogue, op. cit. f I, pp. 57-67, cites 
testimony completely contradicting that quoted in Conable, op. dt, f pp, 630-33, 638-39. 
On the question of emotional excesses, cf. Hogue, op. dt., I, pp. 125-26, 128, 130-34, 169- 
70, with Conable, op. cit., pp. 637, 641, 662. 

"Hogue, op. dt., I, 295. 



forms of expression used/' In much the same vein as the pastoral address 

of 1852, they continued as follows: 

These individuals claim to he strictly Wesleyan in their views of the doctrine, 
and probably are so substantially. Nor do we impugn their motives. But, in our 
judgment, in denouncing those in the ministry and laity who do not sympathize 
with them and adopt their measures . . . they have erred, and in a few instances 
caused secessions. It is our opinion that there was no occasion for these special- 
ties. Our ministers are generally Wesleyan in their faith and preaching touching 
this subject. 53 

Disobedience to discipline was the cardinal sin in Methodism, and 
doubly so when accompanied by encouragement to schism. If Roberts and 
McCreery were not guilty of these offenses at their trials in 1858, they 
were by the time the General Conference assembled. Then only the last 
formal steps remained for the organization of a new denomination. That 
at least some of their party were by nature unruly, harsh in judgment, and 
willing to make a public scandal of the sins of others is, moreover, evident 
from their own testimony. 54 

Many champions of holiness refrained from supporting the "Nazarites" 
out of unwillingness to identify the cause with such behavior, or with the 
abolitionism, anti-Masonry, and laymen's rights which they espoused. Jesse 
Peck, who was present at the Genesee Conference in 1855, framed the 
first resolution against the alleged organization of Nazaritism; he was writ- 
ing The Central Idea of Christianity at the time. William Taylor preached 
alongside Bishop Simpson at the crucial assembly of 1859. 55 A member of 
the Oneida Conference who supported Roberts' appeal in 1860 had, in 
fact, just published a little hand-book in which he condemned lay agitation 
for increased constitutional powers as vigorously as he supported entire 
sanctification by faith. Both the Oneida and East Genesee conferences 
enjoyed a concurrent holiness revival without untoward event; neither, 
significantly, suffered from a sharp urban-rural cleavage. 56 

** Journal of ike General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church ... I860 (New 
York, I860), p. 317. Italics are mine. 

" See Hogue, Free Methodist Church, I, pp. 96-103, passim, 159, 161-62; < ConaHe, 
op. dt., pp. 648-49, 656. 

"Conable, op. cit. t pp. 639, 655, 665. Hogue, op. cit. t I, pp. 35, 81-82, indicates the 
curious opposition to Bishop Hamline. 

59 William E. Reddf, Inside Views of Methodism . . . (New York, 1859), pp. 16, 26, 
45-51, 59-61; cf. Hogue, op. cit., I, pp. 104, 114, 295, and esp. pp. 115 and 204, citing 
the recantation made by the Genesee Conference at its centennial in 1910. 



The issues which drove the Genesee Conference to division seem thus 
to have been as much personal and sociological as religious. The rupture 
could scarcely have occurred had the conflict over holiness not been in- 
volved from the beginning with a struggle for place and power in which 
platforms of moral reform in church and state played a major part. The 
doctrine of ^entire sanctification and the crusade to restore "old-fashioned 
Methodism" were emotional symbols as well as issues vital to the fray. 

In western New York, however, and to some degree in other places, 
the controversy enabled opponents of the second blessing to seize the initia- 
tive. A prominent pastor led the attack for several years in the Philadelphia 
Conference. 57 Though slavery rather than doctrinal standards may have 
been the decisive factor, it is significant that the General Conference of 
1864 made Daniel Curry editor of The Christian Advocate and Journal 
and chose Davis W. Clark to be a bishop in preference to Randolph S. 
Foster and Jesse Peck. 58 Frances Willard, founder and long-term president 
of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, later testified that she lost 
the grace of perfect love from failure to testify to it while serving, during 
the year 1866, as preceptress of the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary in Lima 
New York. 

Miss Willard's story is worth telling for its own sake. Both John Demp- 
ster and Randolph Foster had been instrumental in her conversion in 
1859, while she was a somewhat rebellious student at the Female College 
in Evanston, Illinois. When Mrs. L. L. Hamline arrived there in 1865, 
she arranged for the restless, complex girl to help organize the first na- 
tional association of Methodist women, a temporary group which raised 
funds to construct Heck Hall at nearby Garrett Seminary. She also gave 
Frances the writings of Jesse Peck and Phoebe Palmer and encouraged her 
to read the lives of John Fletcher and Hester Ann Rogers. Dr. and Mrs. 
Palmer conducted a long revival in the Evanston church the next spring, 
and the young woman professed sanctification. On her departure for Lima, 
however, a distinguished minister warned her that the Free Methodists had 
"done great harm in western New York by their excesses in the doctrine 
and experience of holiness," and added: "You know I believe thoroughly 
in and profess it, but just now our church has suffered so much from the 

87 See Wheadey, Phoebe Palmer, pp. 307, 450, 452, 551-54, 579; Simpson, Cyclopedia 
of Methodism, p. 446. 

B8 Simpson, Cyclopedia of Methodism, pp. 272, 516; Gray, Davis W. Clark, pp. 173, 
184; The Daily Christian Advocate (Philadelphia), May 21, 1864. 



"Nazarites," as they are called, that I fear if you speak and act as zealously 
at Lima in this cause as you do here it may make trouhle." 50 

This statement, like so many others made during these years, only sup- 
ports the thesis that "perfect love" was still a central quest of Wesleyan 
religion. Methodist leaders were not yet ready to allow a direct challenge 
to what all regarded as a chief distinguishing belief of their denomina- 
tions. 60 Opponents dared no more than to impugn the methods and termi- 
nology of its special pleaders or to argue the precise forms of "worldliness" 
its subjects must renounce. The departure of the Free Methodist fringe 
deprived antagonists of some favorite targets and thus may in the long run 
have strengthened the cause within the church. Continuous discussion 
certainly provoked a more precise explanation of what it meant to be 
"sanctified wholly." R. S. Foster, Phoebe Palmer, and Jesse Peck, for 
example, helped many seekers by clarifying the distinction between "essen- 
tial human nature" and the "carnal mind," one of which God meant to 
save and the other to cleanse away. And, notwithstanding a recent stu- 
dent's opinion to the contrary, even quite radical advocates of the second 
blessing carefully stressed the growth and discipline which must both pre- 
cede and follow the "instantaneous" reception of perfect love. 61 

Jesse Peck wrote the editor of The Guide to Holiness from the West 
Coast in 1858 that the recent controversies had cleared the air and brought 
unity of opinion nearer than ever before. "Old definitions, and well-es- 
tablished principles," he declared, were "more than ever satisfactory to the 
church." The doctrine was prominent in Methodist preaching in California, 
Peck reported. He had spent many days at the district camp meeting 
without hearing "in public or in private a single unsound opinion on the 
subject . . . from preacher or layman." e2 His satisfaction might have been 
even greater could he have foreseen the revival which after the Civil War 
was to sweep him into the bishop's chair! 

50 See her testimony in S. Olin Garrison, Forty Witnesses, Covering the Whole Range 
of Christian Experience (New York, 1888), p. 97. 

80 See D. D. Whedon, "Doctrines of Methodism," Bibliotheca Sacra, XDC (1862), 
pp. 269-72; Harper's Monthly, XVIII (1859), p. 841; Jacob J. Abbott, "Boardman's Higher 
Christian Life," BiUiotheca Sacra, XVH p860), p. 519; and Wheatley, Phoebe Palmer, p. 
323, for contemporary observations not cited earlier. 

61 William Taylor, Story of My Life, pp. 73-75; Foster, Christian Purity (1869), pp. 63- 
69; Peck, Central Idea, pp. 41-47. On the question of growth in holiness, contrast Peters, 
Christian Perfection, pp. 112, 190, with Wallace, Entire Holiness, pp. 91-92, 93-95, and 
Roberts, Holiness Teachings, pp. 209-12. 

* The Guide to Holiness, XXXIV (July-December, 1858), 143-44. 



Revivalism and Perfectionism 

The foregoing two chapters suggest a new interpretation 
of the revival of 1858, ushered in as it was by Finney's preaching in Boston 
and Baptist Henry Clay Fish's call for a return to Pentecostal piety. Fish 
lamented most the weakness of an unconsecrated church and urged every 
Christian to strive for "the glorious gift of sanctification." The Rev. George 
B. Ide joined him in the conviction that the church could never meet her 
responsibilities to American society until her children "come up to that high 
measure of evangelical sanctification" which the Scriptures require. 1 The 
previous year, the Lutheran Evangelical Quarterly Review had printed a 
serious evaluation of the growing interest in Christian perfection which, 
though rejecting the specifically Wesleyan view, agreed that the times re- 
quired and the Bible taught that Christians must attain personal holiness. 2 
When the revival broke out, it seemed to its champions a "modern Pen- 
tecost" in which the "gift of power" bestowed on believers of every sect 
was preparing the way for the conversion of the world and the early ad- 
vent of the kingdom of God on earth. <0 We need the gift of the Spirit, and 
we need it now," wrote James W. Alexander at its height; "we need it to 
break the power of sin in professing Christians and to nail their lusts to 
the cross." 3 The phenomenal success of William E. Boardman's volume, 
The Higher Christian Life, published at the height of the awakening, can 
only be explained in terms of the universal awareness of this want. No 
wonder that Dr. and Mrs. Palmer found Baptist, Presbyterian, and Con- 
gregational pulpits thrown open to them that summer! Apostolic unction 

1 Henry C. Rsh, Primitive Piety Revived . . . (Boston, 1857), pp. 69-70, 86, 87-90, 98- 
101; cf. The Christian Review, XXIV (1859), p. 321; XXV (1860), p. 153. 

a A. L. Bridgman, "A High Standard of Piety Demanded by tie Times," The Evan- 
gelical Quarterly Review, VII (1855), pp. 364-66, 366-68, 371 ff. 

* James Waddell Alexander, The Revival and Its Lessons . . . (New York, 1858), p. 9. 
Cf. for an identical conviction Charles Pettit McDvaine, Bishop Mcllvaine on the Revival 
of Religion (Philadelphia, 1858), p. 4; and, generally, TalBott W. Chambers, The Noon 
Prayer Meeting of the North Dutch Church, Pulton Street, New York . . . (New York, 
1858), pp. 80, 245, 248, 267. See earlier, pp. 58, 86-88. 



was the burden of every prayer. At on all-day union meeting in Baltimore 
in 1859 prominent pastors of nearly every denomination joined in urging 
a distinct experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit subsequent to con- 
version. The Rev. R. Fuller, minister at the Seventh Avenue Baptist 

Church, concluded his remarks with a request to sing Charles Wesley's 

O for a heart to praise my God, 
A heart from sin set free. 4 

The spiritual tide carried many urban Methodist pastors into the ex- 
perience which in rural Genesee was at the same moment causing bitter 
controversy, Alfred Cookman, who was sanctified in 1857 while pastor of 
Green Street Church, Philadelphia, was the most famous of these. Fie 
founded that fall the city's first noonday prayer meeting. Through its in- 
fluence he became an important leader of the next year's awakening. At 
his succeeding pastorates in Philadelphia, New York City, Wilmington, 
and Newark, Cookman invariably organized a weekday meeting for the 
promotion of holiness, patterned after Mrs. Palmer's, and carried on an 
intensely "spiritual" program. That such a ministry gained favor with the 
denomination's laymen is indicated by the invitations he received to be- 
come pastor of large congregations in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, and 
Washington on the occasion of his transfer to Newark in 1870. 5 

About 1 860 Cookman began spending every summer making the rounds 
of Methodist camp meetings in the East, preaching with great success on 
sanctification. The New York Christian Advocate and Journal reported 
his progress regularly. In 1865, for example, its front page carried the story 
of an evening meeting for clergymen at Shrewsbury camp near Baltimore 
where, after a "frank and full" exchange of views on holiness, Cookman led 
three presiding elders and nineteen other ministers into the blessing. The 
tides of emotion and earnest prayer swept on until dawn. "Whenever and 
wherever the work of sanctification revived among professing Christians," 
the newspaper quoted him as saying, "the work of God revived in the con- 
version of sinners." e 

* Richard Wheatley, Life and Letters of Phoebe Palmer (New York, 1876), pp. 334-35; 
Y.M.CA, Baltimore, Proceedings of the All-Day Prayer Meeting . . . September 27, 1859 
(Baltimore, 1859), pp. 6, 10-11, 17, 19, 23. 

8 Henry B. Ridgaway, The Life of the Rev. Alfred Cookman . . . (New York, 1874), 
pp. 115, 193-98, 229, 235-36, 239, 258, 281, 292-93, 311, 345, 402-5. 

8 Quoted from The Christian Advocate and Journal in Ridgaway, op. dt., pp. 305-6; 
see generally pp. 300-8. 



i i War drew to a close> many other New Yort y ^ 

Philadelphia pastors joined Cookman in thanksgiving that the Methodist 
Centenary year, 1866, would find "the spotless hanner of Christian purity" 
floating triumphantly over American Wesleyanism. John Swannell InsMp 
was sanctified in 1864 while preaching on the experience in his own pul- 
pit in Newark, a year after his wife had found it at Sing Sing camp meet- 
ing. At his next charge, the Green Street Church, New York, Inskip led 
the city's Methodist preacher's meeting, of which he was chairman, in a 
weekly discussion of the theme. He was destined soon to become president 
of the National Camp Meeting Association for the Promotion of Holiness, 
an organization which for one brief decade made entire sanctification a 
rallying cry of the denomination through the length and breadth of the 
land. 7 John C. McClintock, who in 1867 was to become the first president 
of Drew Theological Seminary, fervently pleaded in a centenary sermon 
delivered in his own pulpit, St. John's, New York, that the Methodist min- 
istry must hold to 

the great central idea of the whole Look of God, from the beginning to the 
end, the holiness of the human soul, heart, mind, and will It may be called 
fanaticism but that, dear friends, is our mission. If we keep to that, the next 
century is ours. Our work is a moral work; that is to say, the work of making 
men holy. Our preaching is to that, our church agencies are for that, our 
schools, colleges, universities, and theological seminaries axe for that. There is 
our mission. There is our glory. There is our power, and there shall be our 
triumph. 8 

That holiness had become the key to Methodist evangelism was evident 
from the immensely successful tour Dr. and Mrs. Palmer conducted the 
year after Grant's victory ended the Civil War. They were at Evanston, 
site of Garrett Biblical Institute, for three week, then at McKendree Col- 
lege, Lebanon, Illinois, whence the president, Robert Allyn, reported that 
scores had "experienced the blessing of perfect love." They visited "cen- 

r Ibid., p. 302; Phoebe Palmer, Pioneer Experiences, or the Gift of Power Received "by 
Faith . . . (New York, 1867), pp. 52-60; The Christum Advocate and Journal, May-June, 
1867, pp. 141, 149, 157, 181, 189; A. McLean and Joel W. Eaton, eds., Peauel; or Pace 
to Face -with God (New York, 1869), pp. 6-15; and George Hughes, Days of Power in 
the Forest Temple. A Review of the Wonderful Work of God at Fourteen National 
Camp-Meetings, from 1867 to 1872 (Boston, 1874), pp. 39-60. 

* Quoted in Proceedings of Holiness Conferences 1877 (Philadelphia, ca. 1878), pp. 

139-40, from The Methodist, Feb. 3, 1866. See the sketch in Matthew Simpson, Cyclo- 
pedia of Methodism . . , (Philadelphia, 1878), p. 573. 



tennial camp meetings" held under the auspices of conference districts at 
Albion, Palmyra, and Ann Arbor, Michigan; Greenbush, Ontario; Des 
Plaines, Illinois (the Chicago District camp); Lima, Indiana; and Water- 
town, New York. Scores of pastors professed the blessing and pledged to 
return to their home communities and "uphold the banner of holiness/' 
Meanwhile, Anthony Atwood, president of the Philadelphia preachers' 
meeting, reported in the fall that the gospel of sanctification "never took 
hold of our ministers and people in this city as now/' 9 

A sufficient number of Baptist ministers also experienced the second 
work of grace during the revival of 1858 to begin a noteworthy "higher 
life" movement in their denomination. Chief among them was John Q. 
Adams, pastor of the North Baptist Church, New York. Adams found the 
blessing at Mrs. Palmer's house, after a woman parishioner had shared with 
him her copy of Boardman's famous book. 10 Certain of his congregation 
objected, however, when Adams preached the doctrine; whereupon Adams 
resigned and on July 1, 1859, after an all-day prayer meeting, organized 
eighty-one of the poorer members into the Antioch Baptist Church. The 
new group occupied temporary quarters in a hall of the Metropolitan 
Academy in lower Manhattan. A council of recognition representing forty 
of the churches in the New York Baptist Association "extended fellowship" 
to them the following October, and several pastors joined Adams in preach- 
ing holiness. But the opposition of the North church was sufficient to 
prevent the Antioch people from securing institutional membership in the 
association. Fifty-two converts were baptized the first year, however more 
than in any but two other Baptist congregations in the city and forty- 
one members were received by transfer. Despite the great poverty of the 
congregation and the failure of their first efforts to purchase a vacated 
downtown church building, the work continued to prosper. 11 

In 1863 Adams began publishing a monthly magazine, The Christian, 
which served to unify and inspire the growing company of Baptist min- 

*T7ze Guide to Holiness, L (July-December, 1866), p. 188. See, on the Palmers's tour, 
the same, pp. 58-59, 88-91, 122-23, 152-54; LI (January-June, 1867), p. 155; S, Olin 
Garrison, Forty Witnesses, Covering the Whole Range of Christian Experience ("New 
York, 1888), p. 95. 

10 John Quincy Adams, ed., Experiences of the Higher Christian Life in the Baptist 
Denomination . . . (New York, 1870), pp. 17, 21, 134, 135, 142; Sanctification: A Sermon 
Preached in the North Baptist Church, New York, June 12, 1859 (New York, 1859), p. 3; 
and The Christian, Devoted to the Advancement of Gospel Holiness, I, (1863), pp. 56-58. 

11 The Antioch Baptist Church. First Annual Report . . . I860, pp. 3-15; Third Annual 
Report . . 2862, pp. 3-4, 14. 



isters who had experienced sanctification. Their chief stumbling Hock had 
been sectarian prejudice, which in some cases had restrained them from 
preaching the doctrine even when they enjoyed the blessing. "The devil 
said 'Methodism/ w as one of them put it, "but the Lord said gospel 
truth. Adams himself led the way in rejecting sectarianism, despite 
the fact that he had earlier become well known for his authorship of a 
book entitled Baptists, the Only Thorough Religious Reformers. Mrs. 
Palmer s influence upon the group was marked. Her idea of "only believ- 
ing" was the keynote of their testimony, just as in many localities her 
Tuesday Meeting was a pattern for their evangelism. All of them tended 
to emphasize experience over creeds and to make practical consecration 
their chief concern. 14 By 1867 they were sufficiently numerous to sponsor 
a public service at the anniversary meetings in Chicago of the national 
Baptist societies. Their books and pamphlets multiplied in number, and 
every season of revival brought additional clergymen into the circle. 15 

The rising fame of Baptist evangelist A. B. Earle, who was sanctified 
in 1859, the same year in which he preached eighty consecutive sermons 
in the Tremont Temple at Boston, greatly helped Adams' movement. 
When Jacob Knapp came into contact the following winter with Boston 
Baptists who professed sanctification, he confided that he had himself 
never been troubled with too much holiness. But Emerson Andrews, an- 
other prominent evangelist of the denomination, clearly preached a second 
work of grace. Earle's subsequent role in union city-wide revivals at Fall 
River, Chelsea, Springfield, and Haverhill, Massachusetts, Ithaca, New 
York, and Washington, D. C. is striking proof of the popularity of per- 
fectionism. Boston welcomed Earle back in 1862 for a three-month cam- 
paign at Tremont Temple, and again in 1866 for a union meeting where 
Baptist pastors joined with those from the Park Street and Mount Vernon 

13 The quotation is from Adams, Experiences, p. 227; cf. pp. 32, 33, 166, 167, 176. See 
also the correspondence in The Christian, I (1863), pp. 45-46, 92, 120-22. 

18 Cf. The Christian, I (1863), pp. 52-54, 160, 192, with John Q. Adams, Baptists, 
the Only Thorough Religious Reformers (New York, 1853, and many later editions), 

14 The Christian, I (1863), pp. 15, 176; Adams, Experiences, pp. 27, 34, 113, 116-17, 
131, 134, 137, 143-44, 167-69, 177, 277. 

18 See The Christian, V (1867), pp. 148, 277-78, the latter selection being a rebuke 
to the "practical antinomianism" of "sinning Christians"; VI (1868), p. 51; Antioch 
Baptist Church. First Annual Report . . . I860, p. 13, and Seventh Annual Report . . . 
1866, pp. 3-4; and, for examples of general literature, William L. Parsons, Satan's Devices 
and the Believer's Victory (Boston, 1864), and D. K Newton, The Sword That Cuts, the 
Fire That Burns (New York, 1867). 



Congregational churches. In 1866 the ministerial union of San Francisco 
invited him to California, where, at the behest of Edward N. Kirk and 
others, he spent the next two years. 16 

Earle's book on holiness, The Rest of Faith, like his evangelistic sermons, 
was thoughtful and free from sectarian cant. He was convinced that Chris- 
tians of all denominations were gripped by a great hunger for the "full- 
ness of Christ's love." The record of his success in Boston explains why 
Dr. and Mrs. Palmer found such great interest there in 1864 among clergy- 
men of many persuasions. They accepted an invitation to remain at Tre- 
mont Temple for ten days. 17 

Another indication of the popularity of holiness sentiments in this era 
of revivals is the way in which the perfectionist view of the first work of 
grace gained ground after 1858. Evangelicals readily agreed with the 
Unitarian editor who declared that the gospel "undertakes to effect an 
entire change, a radical reformation in human character" through a "won- 
derful crisis which takes place in the profoundest depths of our nature." 18 
Bishop Mcllvaine warned Ohio Episcopal clergymen in 1863 that neither 
sacraments nor church ordinances nor Sacred Scripture could substitute 
for an immediate experience of Christ. They must, he said, preach con- 
stantly the doctrine that the Holy Spirit comes to the human heart to 
destroy "the carnal mind" and to make the sinner "a new creature in 
Christ Jesus." The deliverance from sin is "so complete that to the believer 
there is no condemnation." 19 

Looking back, then, across the narrative of this and the preceding two 
chapters, we may conclude that the popularity of Christian perfection, in 
both its Oberlin and Wesleyan forms, increased steadily in American Prot- 

18 Absalom B. Earle, Bringing In Sheaves (Boston, 1869), pp. 269, 270, 280-363, 
passim, 373. See earlier, pp. 74-75. CL The Watchman and Reflector, March 26 and 
Apr. 19, 1863; P. G. Headley, Evangelists in the Church: Philip, A.D., 35, to Moody and 
Sankey, AD. 1875 (Boston, 1875), pp. 346-47, 349-59, passim; Jacob Knapp, Auto- 
biography of Elder Jacob Knapp (New York, 1868), p. 178; Emerson Andrews, 
Living Life; or Autobiography of the Rev. Emerson Andrews, Evangelist (Boston, 1875), 
pp. 313-318. 

1T Wheatley, Phoebe Palmer, p. 409. See, again, Earle, Bringing In Sheeves, pp. 363-64: 
c. pp. 239-51 for His defense of interdenominational revivals. See also A. B. Earle, The 
Rest of faith (Boston, 1867); and contrast John C. Stockbridge, A Memoir of the Life 
and Correspondence of Rev. Baron Stow, D.D. . . . (Boston, 1871), p. 311 with Charles 
K. Whipple, "The Boston Revival, and Its Leader," The Radical: a Monthly Magazine 
Devoted to Religion, I (1865-66), 429-38. 

18 The Watchman and Reflector, Jan. 22, 1863. Cf. Austin Phelps, "Conversion, Its 
Nature," Bibliotheca Sacra, XXHI (1866), pp. 53-55 for the spread o the Oberlin view. 

19 Charles Pettit Mcllvaine, The Work of Preaching Christ . . . (New York, 1863), pp. 
14, 26, 44-45, 49-50, 51-54. 



estantism between 1840 and 1870. Although one branch of the Oberlin 
gospel tree bore holiness from the first bloom of grace and the other insisted 
on blossoming twice, the fruit of both was the sanctification of heart and 
conduct. In the Methodist fold the greatest intellectual leaders joined with 
several of the most highly regarded bishops to breathe new life into the 
ancient aim "to reforrn the nation and spread scriptural holiness over these 
lands." Phoebe Palmer and her husband exerted an immense influence over 
the Wesleyan clergy through the New York Tuesday Meeting, The Guide to 
Holiness, and their ardent evangelism at camp meetings all over the coun- 
try. Despite the fact that after 1848 serious controversy broke out in the 
denomination over the public testimonies upon which these advocates of 
the second blessing insisted and the new "altar phraseology" which Mrs. 
Palmer created, few men dared publicly to challenge the doctrine itself. 
The principal result of the debate, as likewise of the Free Methodist seces- 
sion in 1859, was to establish the centrality of "perfect love' in the church's 
teachings. The stream of popular holiness literature flowed thereafter 
without abatement, and the bishops gave hearty encouragement to the 
organized effort to bring Methodist preachers into the experience. 

Elsewhere, particularly in the cities, perfectionism also prospered, borne 
forward on revival tides. Thomas C. Upham, professor of philosophy at 
Bowdoin College, joined Wesleyanism to mysticism in a dozen thoughtful 
books which bridged the chasm between Christian piety and transcen- 
dentalism. Mrs. Palmer had secured Upham's sanctification in 1839. Dur- 
ing the revival of 1858 Presbyterian William E. Boardman initiated the 
"Higher Life" movement, with the express aim of making the doctrine in- 
terdenominational. From 1859 to 1874, when Dwight L. Moody's fame 
eclipsed them, Boardman and A. B. Earle a Baptist likewise chiefly known 
for his advocacy of the second blessing were easily the two most respected 
evangelists in America. Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists who 
could not accept their radical idea of two works of grace meanwhile turned 
quite naturally toward the emphasis growing at Oberlin on a perfect life 
through the initial experience of conversion. 

What were the causes of this remarkable fruitage of perfectionist fervor 
in mid-nineteenth-century America? 

Most obvious is the fact that the movement embodied in somewhat 
radical fashion the religious ideals and customs stemming from the new 
revivalism. Evangelism spawned Arminianism, and Arminianism of both 



the Wesleyan and Oberlin varieties bore perfectionism. 20 Holiness was 
so generally identified with interchurch fellowship that a call issued by 
the Evangelical Alliance for a national week of prayer in January, 1863, 
equated the increase of one with the growth of the other, 21 Parishioners 
who led their pastors into the higher life demonstrated time and again the 
new spiritual eminence of laymen. Most important, the ethical earnestness 
native to revivalism attained fullest expression in the doctrine of entire 
consecration to God's will, an idea which was the pith and marrow of the 
holiness crusade. At the high tide of revivalism, perfectionism was the 
crest of the wave. 

That a romantic and transcendentalist generation joined readily in the 
mystic quest for union with God and "perfect love" should, moreover, not 
surprise us. Thomas C. Upham must have been already steeped in the 
literature of Catholic sainthood when he met Phoebe Palmer, for his first 
treatise on holiness, Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life, employed 
quotations from twelve great mystics. 22 George Peck, who asserted that 
no work in English stated and applied the doctrine of sanctification better 
than this volume, was amazed to find that the Unitarian Religious Mis- 
cellany, The Arminian Quarterly, and The New Englander approved its 
main position the last differing only on the point of instantaneous at- 
tainment. 23 

The kinship of the belief in the Holy Spirit's "abiding presence" to 
Ralph Waldo Emerson's idea of communion with the oversoul was appar- 
ent to such widely different witnesses as Stephen Olin, Phoebe Palmer, 
Gilbert Haven, Andrew Preston Peabody, and Emerson himself. Peabody, 
who succeeded Frederic D. Huntington at Harvard, explained this rela- 

* See earlier, pp. 80-94, passim and tlie quotation from Samuel S. Schmucker, p. 58. 

**The American Missionary, XII (1863), p. 7. Cf. Daniel P. Noyes, "The Church and 
the Churches," BiUiotheca Sacra, XX (1863), pp. 350-51, 355; Charles Adams, "Wesley 
the Catholic," The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXXII (1850), pp. 177, 191; W. Scott, 
"Remarks on I Corinthians XIII, 9-13," the same, pp. 377, 380-82, 384; and The Chris- 
tian, I (1863), p. 160, praising the "spirit of true Christian union" in a Free Methodist 
camp meeting in Broome County, N. Y. 

22 Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, Perfectionism, (New York, 1931), II, 371-73; 
c pp. 371-410, passim. For an example of popular interest, see "The Youth and Early 
Manhood of Fen&on," Zion's Herald, Oct. 25 and Nov. 8, 1854. 

r-ro 2 L^ e rge * Peck ' " Dr ' U P ham * s Works," The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXVIII 
(1846); see 252-57 for a hiring satire on transcendentalism. Note the mystical interests 
or the period of the great revival in "Notes on the Mystics," The Christian Review, XXV 
(I860), pp. 557-76; The Watchman and Reflector, July 2, 1857, containing a report of a 
Newton Seminary graduate's essay on "Union with Christ by the Agency of the Holy 
Spirit ; and Henry C. Fish, Primitive Piety, pp. 138-40. 



tionship in a Pentecost Sunday sermon at Appleton Chapel in the early 
seventies. 24 In 1864 a Baptist ministers little volume, The Celestial Dawn; 
or Connection of Earth and Heaven, wove together golden strands from 
Wesley, Upham, Finney, Wordsworth, and the Catholic mystics to form 
a magic carpet of evangelical transcendentalism. "Pure truth/' he declared, 
"is an inbreathing of God; . . . holy love is the life of God and celestial 
beings. So far as we are admissive of these, earth and heaven become one 
in our experience." 25 

Indeed the whole stream of nineteenth-century popular romanticism was 
a fitting context for the optimism which ruled in Phoebe Palmer's parlors 
as Americans sought "immediate sanctification by faith." A similar mood lay 
back of New Harmony, the Oneida Community, and the Washingtonian 
movement, as well as Brook Farm. The merging of the romantic spirit with 
the boundless hopefulness of the postwar years in no wise lessened the 
receptiveness of multitudes awakened by a generation of revivals to the 
confident promise, "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have 
fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ God's son 
cleanseth us from all sin." 26 

Two sociological facts bear on this point: the growth of city life and 
the enlarged role of women in religious affairs. Perfectionism in America 
seems to have been typical not of frontier but of urban communities. There 
the social discipline of the church was more consistent. The migration of 
both native and foreign-born agricultural populations to the cities pro- 
duced a host of personal frustrations. Individuals once securely integrated 
within a simpler society felt themselves 'lost" in the crowds, if not the sin, 
of the city. To be "found" in a revival was a thrilling emotional experi- 
ence. Those converts whose religious training and psychological orienta- 
tion permitted it turned readily to a subjective, individualistic quest for 
personal holiness, for "union with Christ." From the Arkansas frontier a 
Methodist local preacher wrote The Guide to Holiness in 1856: 

34 Andrew Preston Peabody, Christian Belief and Life (Boston, 1875), pp. 232-39; 
Gilbert Haven, "Wesley and Modern Philosophy/' The Methodist Quarterly Review, LXI 
(1879), pp. 9, 16; John McCHntock, "Stephen Olin," The Methodist Quarterly Review, 
XXXVI (1854), pp. 17-18. Cf. on the same point, Henry Steele Commager, Theodore 
Parker (Boston, 1936), p. 267; Stow Persons, Free Religion, an American Faith (New 
Haven, 1947), p. 21. 

25 W. F. Evans, The Celestial Dawn; or Connection of Earth and Heaven (Boston, 
1864), p. vi, and passim; cf. identical sentiments in Peabody, Belief and Life, pp. 160-68, 
and The Guide to Holiness, XXXIV (July-December, 1858), pp. 122-23. 

29 1 John 1:7. See Ralph Henry Gabriel, "Evangelical Religion and Popular Romanti- 
cism in Early Nineteenth Century America," Church History, XIX (1950), p. 41. 



Not a single minister o God within this state (and I am generally acquainted 
with the ministry of the different denominations) has as yet attained this grace, 
though several o my Methodist brethren preach it. ... How I would rejoice "to 
sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" with all those who have enjoyed, and do 
enjoy this blessing in Boston and New York. 27 

The theory that mystical and perfectionist religion thrives when feminine 
influence is dominant may find some support in the fact that women like 
Mrs. Palmer and Mrs. Upham led their husbands into the experience. 28 
Many others, including Mrs. William E. Boardman, the second Mrs. 
Rnney, Mrs. Leonidas Hamline, Mrs. Edmund S. Janes, Mrs. John 
Insldp, and Mrs. Alfred Cookman assumed prominent roles concurrently 
with the sanctification of their several spouses. Such women conducted 
week-day holiness meetings, wrote articles and sentimental poetry for The 
Guide, devoured the biographies of early Methodist female saints, and 
spent summers at camp meetings supervising children's work and leading 
their more timid sisters into the emancipating blessing. 29 

Such a generalization bears some scrutiny, however, for Phoebe Palmer 
heartily opposed the mystic tendencies of both Thomas C. Upham and 
Frederic Dan Huntington. She warned Upham that his emphasis on 
intuitive experience to the neglect of scriptural formulas was leading some 
to think they had reached a state of union with God which Paul himself 
did not attain in this life. Nor, she continued, did Upham's doctrine of "the 
death of the will" fit the New Testament picture of Christ, whose will in 
her opinion was "not dead, but in subjection to the will of His Father," 
and whose humanity was proof that "natural propensities . . . are not sinful, 
only as they have become debased by the Fall." The function of God's 
sanctifying grace, she said, is to turn human drives into holy channels. 
About the same time she wrote Huntington that, while admiring his un- 

87 The Guide to Holiness, XXX (1856), p. 158. Cf. Thomas Guthrie, The City: Its 
Sins and Its Sorrows . . . (Glasgow, 1862), pp. 8-9 ; and "The Perils and Advantages of a 
Christian Life in the City/* The Independent, Dec. 16, 1858. 

38 Herbert Moller, "Sex Composition and Correlated Culture Patterns of Colonial 
America," The William and Mary Quarterly, H (1949), p. 146. 

28 Any issue of The Guide to Holiness will verify this point: see L ( July-Decembei , 
1866), in which half of the signed articles are by women; XXXII (July-December, 1857), 
45-47, 131; and the interesting extract from Jesse T. Peck, The True Woman, or Life 
and Happiness at Home and Abroad (New York, 1856), quoted in the same, p. 129. Cf. 
George Coles, Heroines of Methodism . . . (New York, 1857), pp. 4, 135-36, 203-4 and 
passim; and Abel Stevens, The Women of Methodism: Its Three Foundresses , . . (New 
York, 1866), pp. 3-4, 15. Twenty of the twenty-five testimonies of lay persons in Adams, 
Higher Life in the Baptist Denomination, were from women, as were most of those in 
John Eyre, Full Sanctification Realized . . . (London, 1850). 



reserved consecration, she feared his desire for some inner "sign or wonder" 
of mystic revelation. Sanctification was not an experience of constant 
ecstasy but a "state of continuous trust." That trust was, in her view, a 
rational act based upon the awareness of our complete personal consecration 
to God's will and full confidence in the promises of his Word. 80 

All of which suggests a third and quite utilitarian impulse of the holi- 
ness revival, the hunger for an experience which would "make Chris- 
tianity work." Finney, the reformer, Mrs. Palmer, the pioneer of many 
benevolent and missionary enterprises and William E. Boardman, organizer 
and executive head of The United States Christian Commission, did not 
seem mystic dreamers to their generation. They rather exhibited the con- 
secration to Christian service which their preaching declared to be in will 
the prerequisite and in life the fruit of entire sanctification. The movement 
they led was one of the great efforts by which the plain men of the century 
tried to put their religious ideals to work. 

Thus James Caughey wrote of Christianity in Earnest, Boardman of 
"gospel efficiency," and Phoebe Palmer of Faith and Its Effects her trust 
in God must get results. 31 Perfectionists of all varieties rang the changes 
on Henry Clay Fish's theme that the Spirit's baptism was the secret of 
pulpit power and the fountain of that energy which alone could accom- 
plish the evangelization of the world. 82 They met on common ground with 
the Unitarian editor who declared in 1857 that the "perilous experiment 
of liberty" in America, accompanied as it was by the passing away of "old 
creeds and usages," could only succeed if the ministry were baptized with 
the Holy Spirit and each disciple clothed anew with the "tongues of 
fire." 33 During the war the American Tract Society published an Ameri- 

80 Quoted in Wheadey, Phoebe Palmer, pp. 401-2, 518, 520, 575-76; pp. 510-77, 
passim, contain numerous letters touching on the same theme. See especially pp. 540-41, 

81 William Edwin Boardman, He that Overcometh, or a Conquering Gospel (Boston, 
1869), pp. 207-303, passim. Caughey's phrase persisted in the name of B. T. Roberto's 
periodical, The Earnest Christian and Golden Rule, Devoted to the Promotion of Experi- 
mental and Practical Piety (Buffalo; Rochester, N. Y., v. 1-58, 1860-89) and another 
published in Canada, Earnest Christianity CToronto, v. 1-4, 1873-76). Cf. G. W. Huntley, 
"Holiness Essential to Usefulness," The Christian, II (1864), pp. 8-10. 

"Henry C. Fish, "Power in the Pulpit," The Christian Review, XXVH (1862), 
pp. 141-42 was cited in a previous chapter. Cf. B. W. Gorham, "Personal Holiness and 
Ministerial Efficiency," The Guide to Holiness, XXXI (January-June, 1857), pp. 5-7, 153- 
54; Adams, Higher Life in the Baptist Denomination, p. 119; and, for a later non-perfec- 
tionist statement, Nehemiah Adams, The Power and Office of the Holy Spirit * . . (Boston, 
1866), passim* 

88 Quoted in The Watchman and Reflector, Feb. 19, 1857. Cf. George Ellis, Regenera- 
tion and Sanctification . . . (Charlestown, Mass., 1842), pp. 11, 21, 26. 



can edition of Hannah More's Practical Piety, a famous handbook of the 
English evangelical awakening, which maintained that every genuine reli- 
gious experience especially Christian holiness must express itself ethic- 
ally. "All the doctrines of the Gospel," she wrote, "are practical princi- 
ples/' 34 

Enthusiasm for Christian perfection was evangelical Protestantism's an- 
swer to the moral strivings of the age. 85 The Unitarian revolt had earlier 
shown that Americans would be less interested in dogma than in ethics. 
But the challenge of its leaders to some of the ancient principles of the 
Christian faith and their preoccupation with intellectual concerns cut them 
off from the masses. This was especially true of the two most interested in 
a radical reformation of society Emerson and Parker. Out of the heart 
of revival Christianity came by mid-century a platform more widely ac- 
ceptable and as realistically concerned with alleviating social evil. It called 
for the miraculous baptism of believers in the Holy Ghost and the con- 
secration of their lives and possessions to the building of the kingdom of 
God. Horace Bushnell, always an intriguing figure to historians because 
he stood midway between both camps, appears in this light not so much a 
pioneer as a symbol of his times. Men such as he and Frederic Dan Hunt- 
ington united for a sophisticated audience the principles of Christian 
liberalism and evangelical faith which were fused among the masses by the 
fires of the perfectionist awakening. 36 

Immersion in the events of the period, however, ought not to blind us 
to one other important determinant of the impulse to holiness, the persist- 
ence in history of a great ideal. The favorable response of Methodist 
officials to Finney and Phoebe Palmer would have been impossible had not 
their founder been the foremost advocate of Christian perfection in mod- 
em times. Every book on the subject cited in the foregoing pages refers 
to Wesley; most of them quote him at great length. The Epworth reformer, 
in turn, drew inspiration from the Moravians, Luther, Augustine, and, 

** Hannah More, Practical Piety; or the Influence of the Religion of the Heart on the 
Conduct of Life (New York, 1863), pp. 31, 35, 162-68; c. The Christian Review, XXIV 
(1859), p. 157. For a modern Episcopal expression o the same theme see Samuel M. 
Shoemaker, Jr., Religion That Works. Sermons of Practical Christian Life (New York 
1938), pp, 119 ff. 

85 Contrast Howard R. Murphy, "The Ethical Revolt Against Christian Orthodoxy in 
Early Victorian England," The American Historical Review, LX (1955), pp. 800-17. 

88 See BushnelTs Sermons for the New Life (7th ed., New York, 1869), pp. 106-26 
265-81, passim. 



above all, the New Testament the book sacred to nineteenth-century 
Christians as the very bread of life, 

One can, after all, hardly write of Boardman and Bangs and ignore 
Jesus, whose most famous sermon applied the theme, "Blessed are the pure 
in heart," with the admonition, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your 
Father which is in heaven is perfect." Or disregard Paul, whose many 
prayers for the perfection of the saints are typified in his exhortation to 
the Thessalonians, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and 
I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless 
unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Thomas Upham's quest of 
union with God and A. B. Earle's testimony to "the rest of faith" were but 
a latter-day echo of Augustine's confession, 'Thou madest us for Thyself, 
and our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee." 87 

27 The Confessions of Sfc Augustine (tr. Edward B. Pusey; New York, 1951), p. 1. 
C. R. Newton Hew, Idea of Perfection, for a connected narrative covering all of Chris- 
tian history until Wesley. The Scripture quotations are from Matt. 5:8, 48 and I Thess. 


The Evangelical Origins 
of Social Christianity 

The rapid growth of concern with purely social Issues such 
as poverty, workingmen's rights, the liquor traffic, slum housing, and 
racial bitterness is the chief feature distinguishing American religion after 
1865 from that of the first half of the nineteenth century. Such matters in 
some cases supplanted entirely the earlier pre-occupation with salvation 
from personal sin and the life hereafter. Seminaries reorganized their pro- 
grams to stress sociology. Institutional churches and social settlement work 
became prominent in the cities. Crusades for the rights of oppressed groups 
of all sorts absorbed the energies of hundreds of clergymen. 

The vanguard of the movement went far beyond trie earlier Christian 
emphasis on almsgiving to a search for the causes of human suffering and 
a campaign to reconstruct social and economic relations upon a Christian 
pattern. At its height evangelicals like William Booth and Charles M. 
Sheldon stood as stanchly for reform as their more liberal brethren. Out- 
standing among the latter were Washington Gladden Congregationalist 
pastor in Columbus, Ohio, and labor's fast friend and Walter Rauschen- 
bush ? professor at the Baptist seminary in Rochester. Gladden's hymn, 
"O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee," hauntingly expresses the spiritual 
content of his many appeals in behalf of workingmen's rights. The same 
note of reverence echoes in Rauschenbush's Prayers of the Social Awaken- 
ing and in his little book on The Social Principles of Jesus. 

The best-known recent works on the beginnings of social Christianity 
have leaned toward either an intellectual or a sociological interpretation and 
placed chief emphasis upon the events which followed the Civil War. 
Pressure from urban maladjustments and industrial strife, the challenge 
of Darwinian philosophy and the new psychology, and the influence of 
the optimistic and communitarian spirit of the age seemed to Charles 
Howard Hopkins, Aaron I. Abell, Henry F. May, and James Dombrowski 
the chief factors which turned Christian minds toward social reconstruc- 



tion. 1 That humanitarian impulses flowed earlier from hearts warmed at 
Finney's revival fires has not been forgotten, of course. 2 But for the past 
half-century church historians have assumed that revivals and perfectionism 
declined in public favor after about 1842, the year in which Elder Jacob 
Knapp was banished from Boston and the Oberlin preachers suffered 
widespread attacks for their "fanaticism." Thus scholars have eliminated 
these two forces from consideration as causes of the movement which 
seemed to emerge later on. 

The discovery that the doctrine of sanctification and the methods of 
mass evangelism played an increasingly important role in the program of 
the churches after 1842 compels a revaluation of their impact on every 
facet of the contemporary religious scene. Here, then, is offered an evan- 
gelical explanation of the origins of the social gospel. The thesis of the re- 
maining chapters of this book is that, whatever may have been the role 
of other factors, the quest for perfection joined with compassion for poor 
and needy sinners and a rebirth of millennial expectation to make popular 
Protestantism a mighty social force long before the slavery conflict erupted 
into war. 

In many ways, of course, the evangelists' preoccupation with personal 
religious experience could nurture an exclusively spiritual faith. Their 
chief concern was to prepare men for another world, their most earnest 
prayer for a miraculous "outpouring of the Holy Spirit" \vhich would 
break the shackles of human sin. Opposition to social evil was often only 
an occasional skirmish in their war on personal wickedness. 3 Charles G. 
Finney, for example, inspired many an abolitionist. But he never thought 
himself primarily a reformer. He composed his Lectures on Revivals in 
1834 partly to help Joshua Leavitt, editor of The New York Evangelist, 

1 Aaron I. Abell, The Urban Impact on American. Protestantism, 1865-1900 (Harvard 
Historical Studies, LTV, Cambridge, 1943), pp. 3-26; Henry R May, Protestant Churches 
and Industrial America (New York, 1949); Charles Howard Hopkins, The Rise of the 
Social Gospel in American Protestantism, 1 865-1913 (New Haven, 1940); James Dom- 
browski, The Early Days of Christian Socialism in America (New York, 1936), preface, 
pp. 1-13, and passim. Trie two named last pay very scant attention to Baptist and Method- 
ist souices. Dombrowski did not consider any Methodist seminaries in his chapter on the 
significance of such institutions, pp. 60-73. Hopkins' History of the Y.M.C.A. in North 
America (New York, 1951) does, however, give due credit to revivalism. 

3 Gilbert H. Barnes, The Antislavery Impulse, J830-I844 (New York, 1933); Alice 
Felt Tyler, Freedom's Ferment: Phases of American Social History to 1860 (Minneapolis, 
1944), pp. 489-97; and Benjamin Platt Thomas, Theodore Dwight Weld, Crusader for 
Freedom (New Brunswick, N. J., 1950), all stress this fact 

* See, for example, Lewis G. Vander Velde, "Notes on the Diary of George 
The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XXXV (1937-38), p. 61. 



rescue that paper from the near ruin which Leavitt's strong stand against 
slavery tad brought upon it. Two decades later Elder Jacob Knapp blamed 
only himself when a Louisville congregation halted one of his campaigns 
upon learning that Knapp was about to break his self-imposed silence on 
slavery. Though always an abolitionist, he believed his first work was to 
save souls not free slaves. "I let all debatable subjects alone," James 
Caughey wrote from England in 1857; "have nothing to do with re- 
formers as reformers, but as soul-savers I know all good men." A sincere 
revivalist had little choice when the alternative was to drive penitents from 
the place of prayer. 4 

The violence of the slavery controversy only made the problem more 
difficult. True enough, a Baptist minister wrote, the aim of the Christian 
faith was "to revolutionize the world and bring all powers under its own 
sway." But had not Christ himself set an example of love and longsuffering 
toward the authors of oppression? 5 

When right-wing Calvinists and Episcopalians accepted revival measures, 
they became the chief spokesmen for such spiritual conservatism. The 
editor of Boston's Puritan Recorder attempted in 1854 to show that past 
American awakenings had prospered in proportion to their '^holiness," by 
which he meant the extent to which they "drew a wide line between 
politics and religion, betiveen the interests of this world and of another." 
The Episcopal Church Journal attributed the success of lay leadership in 
the revival of 1858 to the public reaction against "Kansas and antislavery 
preachers" who had neglected spiritual tasks. That only their church's 
share of the awakening had begun under clerical auspices seemed to these 
editors proof that the people preferred a politically conservative ministry. 7 
Similarly, the pastoral address which Charles P. Mcllvaine prepared for 
circulation on behalf of the board of Episcopal bishops in 1862 condemned 
Southerners for rebellion but not slavery and warned Northern Chris- 
tians of the dangers which periods of public excitement bring to the 

* James Caughey, Sheffield, November, 1857, to Slade Robinson, Toronto, quoted in 
The Guide to Holiness, XXXJ3I (February, 1858), p. 50; Charles G. Finney, Memoirs 
(New York, 1876), pp. 328-30; Jacob Knapp, Autobiography (New York, 1868), pp. 172- 

* Eli Noyes, Lectures on the Truth of the Bible (Boston, 1853), pp. 263-72, passim. 
CL John McCIintock's praise for Fletcher Harper's conservatism in The Methodist Quarterly 
Review, XXXVII (1855), p. 145, with the latter's statement on p. 15 of this volume. 

* The Puritan Recorder, Feb. 23, 1854. Of. "Political Preaching," Feb. 5, 1857. 

* Anon., The Revival System and the Paraclete. A Series of Articles from the Church 
Journal (New York, 1858), pp. 60-6Z 



life of the spirit. "Let not love of country make your love to God and your 
gracious Saviour less fervent/' the address ran. "Immense as is the present 
earthly interest, it is only earthly." 8 

But liberalism on social issues, not reaction, was the dominant note 
which evangelical preachers sounded tefore 1860. The most influential 
of them, from Albert Barnes and Samuel S. Schmucker to Edward 
Norris Kirk and Matthew Simpson, defined carefully the relationship 
between personal salvation and community improvement and never tired 
of glowing descriptions of the social and economic millennium which 
they believed revival Christianity would bring into existence. Even the 
doctrine of human depravity seemed to such men a demonstration of 
the solidarity of the race and the brotherhood of man, a crushing rebuke 
to "all contempt of even the vilest" of Adam's sons. That they thought 
individual regeneration a chief means of social reform does not set them 
apart from their postwar successors. As late as 1910, according to the 
foremost student of the subject, the central feature of Christian social 
method in America remained the dedication of person and resources to 
the will of God. Thus, Lyman Abbott and Josiah Strong would have agreed 
with the editor of the Baptist Watchman and Reflector who insisted in 
the year 1857 that legislation alone could not "reach down to the root 
of our social evils." For this, he wrote, "moral and Christian power must 
be invoked. . . . The great panacea is the gospel of Christ/* 10 

These later reformers might also have shared the same editor's en- 
thusiasm for Frederic Dan Huntington's declaration before a Unitarian 
gathering planning a denominational tract society, that "the world's 
salvation consists in a spiritual redemption . . , and not in & mere natural 
development of the human powers according to natural laws/' The books 
Unitarians circulated, Huntington said, 

CKarles Pertit Mcllvaine Pastoral Letter of the Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal 
Church . . . Delivered before the General Convention * . . N. Y., Friday October 17, 1862 
(New York, 1862), pp. 11-12; William Wilson Manross, A History of the American 
Eviscoyal Church (2nd ed., New York, 1950), pp. 290-92. Cf. McHvaine's Tne Work 
of Preaching Christ . . . (New York, 1863), pp. 9, 14-15, 19, 24; and Samuel L Pome, 
Five Years of Prayer, with the Answers (New York, 1864), pp. 31-32, 34-36. 

9 The Watchman and Reflector, Nov. 12, 1857; Stepnen Olin, Works (New York, 
1860), n, pp. 347-53. Cf., for example, Gilbert Haven, National Sermons: Sermons, 
Speeches and Letters on Slavery and Its War . . . (Boston, 1869), pp. 136-37, 345, with 
Walter Rausdhenbusch's use of the same theme, in Theology of the Social Gospel (New 
York, 1917), pp. 57-58. 

10 The Watchman and Reflects, Nov. 12, 1857j Hopkins, Social Cos-pel, pp. 75-76, 
138-39, 14243, 148. 



must affirm the radical and essential distinction between morality and piety, in- 
sisting on the latter as the vital root of the former. They must recognize the 
offices of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, in regenerating the soul, sanctifying it, 
Hooding it with grace, and raising it to glory. And finally, they must fearlessly 
and unqualifiedly apply the principles and spirit of the Lord Jesus, not only 
to the ordinary labor and familiar relations of man's life in the world, but to all 
popular combinations of sin, organized Iniquities, and public crimes, like 
intemperance, slavery, and war. . . - 11 

In fact, If evangelicals insisted upon moral solutions to social questions, 
they never forgot that personal sin often had communal roots. Albert 
Barnes pointed in 1842 to the "evils of alliance, of compact, of confedera- 
tion" characteristic of urban life, to "sins of common pursuit, where one 
man keeps another in countenance, or one man leads on the many to 
transgression." Sin is never solitary, he declared, nor can it be banished 
piecemeal from society. 

One sin is interlocked with others and is sustained by others. . . . The only 
power in the universe which can meet and overcome such combined evil is the 
power of the Spirit of God. There are evils of alliance and confederation in 
every city which can never be met but by a general revival of religion. 12 

Fifteen years later The Watchman s editor, a leader in the crusade for 
just such a nation-wide awakening, reproved those who were taking refuge 
from the gloomy social outlook in purely spiritual contemplation. True, he 
acknowledged, the slave power was gaining ground every day. The Ameri- 
can Republic, instead of being superseded by the kingdom of Christ 
"as the star of dawn is swallowed up in the perfect day," might have to be 
overturned in judgment before Christians could enjoy millennial peace. 
But, declared this earnest Baptist, the triumph of the gospel calls for its 
victory over all evil, not a mere deliverance of individual Christians from 

It is something more than a gathering together of those who shall be saved 
in a future state, leaving the world to destruction; it contemplates the organiza- 

11 Quoted in The Watchman and Reflector, MarcL 23, 1854. 

"Albert Barnes, "Revivals of Religion in Cities and Large Towns," The American 
National Preacher, XV (1841), pp. 12-13, 15. A similar statement appears in Olin, Works 
M, 85, and Edward Nonis Kirk, The Church Essential to the Republic . . . (New York, 

lS4B} t pp. 5 7 14. 



tion and supremacy of goodness in human society the doing of God's will on 
earth the coming of His Kingdom hither, as well as our going hence to it. ... 
True, when his work in this respect is accomplished, we are taught that there 
will be new heavens and a new earth, in which all external circumstances shall 
be conformed to the spiritual glory of that consummation. . . . Meanwhile, it is 
ours, not only to fit ourselves and others for a better world, but to labor to mate 
this world better. 13 

The growth of slavery could only be halted, the writer continued, when 
Christians comprehended the infinite value which Christ had attached to 
every human creature through his incarnation, sufferings, and atoning 
death. Men must "learn to regard slavery as not merely the denial of 
rights conferred in original creation, but as an outrage on the nature 
which the Son of God was pleased to make the temple of His divinity." 
For this reason, he believed that the growth of the "pure spirit" of Chris- 
tianity would be more effective against the extension of the institution 
than a hundred legislative prohibitions. The latter were indispensable, 
even as they were "altogether rightful." But if the church of Christ were 
"more suffused with His spirit," their necessity would be greatly 
diminished. "Oppression and violence could not with their darkness 
affront that light," he cried; "faith and love and purity would prevail, 
because vivified and directed by One who has all power, as He is to have 
all dominion." 14 

It is no wonder that when the intermittent and local awakenings 
characteristic of the years after 1842 gave way in 1858 to a Pentecost of 
seemingly miraculous proportions, revivalists were convinced that the con- 
quest of social and political evil was near at hand. For long afterward 
they were apt to ascribe humanitarian progress to the force of the gospel. 15 
As late as 1880 a Freewill Baptist minister predicted confidently that 
the faith which had "swept slavery from the earth, elevated women from 
a state of bondage," and "weakened the grasp of despots" would ultimately 
triumph over every ill. 'War will eventually cease," he cried. "The strong 

18 The Watchman and Reflector, March 26, 1857. See earlier, pp. 48-49. 

The Watchman and Reflector, March 26, 1857. Cf. "Need of a Deeper Piety," the 
same, Jan. 15, 1863. 

16 Jesse T. Peck, The History of the Great Republic, Considered from a Christian 
Standpoint (New York, 1868), pp. 560, 562; "The Power," The American Missionary 
(Magazine), VIII (1864), p. 34. 



will foster the weak, capital befriend labor ... and the spirit of mutual 
helpfulness pervade all the ranks of society." 16 

What was needed to accomplish these ends was more and purer piety. 
Hence the importance of the fervor for Christian perfection which spread 
through the churches after 1835. All of the socially potent doctrines of 
revivalism reached white heat in the Oberlin and Wesleyan experience of 
sanctification ethical seriousness, the call to full personal consecration, 
the belief in God's immanence, in his readiness to transform the present 
world through the outpoured Holy Ghost, and the exaltation of Christian 
love. 17 

William Arthur most clearly expounded for nineteenth-century Meth- 
odists the social implications of their belief in deliverance from all sin 
and in entire consecration. In his book The Tongue of Fire, which ap- 
peared in a half-dozen editions in England and America after 1854, Arthur 
warned that the two most dangerous perversions of the gospel were to 
look upon it as "a salvation for the soul after it leaves the body, but no 
salvation from sin while there/ 7 and as "a means of forming a holy 
community in the world to come, but never in this/* 

Nothing short of the general renewal of society ought to satisfy any soldier 
of Christ. . . . Much as Satan glories in his power over an individual, how 
much greater must be his glorying over a nation embodying, in its laws and 
usages, disobedience to God, wrong to man, and contamination to morals^ To 
destroy all national holds of evil; to root sin out of institutions; to hold up to 
view tie gospel ideal of a righteous nation ... is one of the first duties of those 
whose position or mode of thought gives them any influence in general ques- 
tions. In so doing they are at once glorifying the Redeemer, by displaying the 
benignity of his influence over human society, and removing hindrances to in- 
dividual conversions, some of which act by direct incentive to vice, others by 
upholding a state of things the acknowledged basis of which is, "Forget God." 

Satan might be content to let Christianity turn over the subsoil, if he is in 
perpetuity to sow the surface with thorns and briers; but the gospel is come 
to renew the face of the earth. 18 

Other Methodist perfectionists struck a similar note. The editor of 

** Doctrine and Life. Sermons ~by Free Baptist Ministers (Dover, N. H., 1880), p. 34. 

17 See earlier, pp. 141-42, 145-46. 

18 William Arthur, pie Tongue of Fire . . . (New York, 1880), pp. 145-46. On 
Arthur's general prominence, see T. Bowman Stephenson, William Arthur, A Brief 
Biography (John Tedford, ed., The U&rary of Methodist Biography, New York, n.d.) p. 
Ill: and Matthew Simpson, ed., Cyclopedia of Methodism . . . (Philadelphia* 1878), p. 55. 



Zioris Herald declared in 1854 that spirituality must be expressed in 
irreproachable morality and unceasing efforts to reform society, lest the 
"adversaries of Christ" be permitted to appear more interested in the 
welfare of mankind than the friends of the gospel. Every Christian should 
seek to overthrow slavery, intemperance, political corruption, and all other 
public vices. A few weeks later the same journal argued that only "entire 
self-devotion to Christ" could produce the systematic benevolence which 
was the hope of the poor. The way to avoid the sin of covetousness was 
"to subject our property, with ourselves, to the dominion of Christ." 
The Guide to Holiness printed in 1856 Finney's letter advising ministers 
"to inquire affectionately and particularly" into the political beliefs of their 
parishioners, "whether they are cleaving to a party without regard to 
principles," as well as "in what manner they demean themselves toward 
those who are in their employment." 19 

Elsewhere, a professor at Ohio Wesleyan University echoed Wesley's 
dictum that the increase of personal wealth was the most subtle foe to a 
life of personal consecration. The sanctified Christian is "a living sacrifice"; 
he must relieve the poor, visit the sick and imprisoned, and instruct the 
ignorant in the ways of the Lord. 20 Somewhat later, the president of 
another Methodist college wrote in The Guide to Holiness against the 
"kind of passive, quiescent, sentimental offering, which some souls seem 
to make of themselves to God." The consecration which the gospel con- 
templates, he insisted, is one of service to others. "That faith and consecra- 
tion, if such there be, which do not lead to service and sacrifice, are of no 
value. . . . The power of the Gospel is proved by the service rendered 
to man in the name of Christ." 

The idea of full personal consecration had made great headway since 
the days when Lyman Beecher undercut Charles G. Finney's pleas to a 
Boston audience to devote their property and talents to Christ with the 

19 The Guide to Holiness, XXIX (January-June, 1856), p. 35; Zion's Herald, Nov. 29, 
and Dec. 13, 1854. The same sentiment appeared earlier in "Holiness Its Effects," Zion's 
Herald, March 10, 1852. See also "Property Its Abuses and True Uses," the same, Dec. 
20, 1854; "Is Systematic Benevolence a Duty/ 1 the same, Dec. 27, 1854; and Stephen 
Olin's sermon o 1848, "The Gospel Basis of Charity," Works, II, 86-89. 

20 Frederick Merrick, "Consecration to God," in Davis W. Clark, ed., The Methodist 
Episcopal Pulpit; a Collection of Original Sermons from Living Ministers of the M. E. 
Church (New York, 1850), pp. 134-36. Cf. the same appeal, hut hased on intense 
otherworldiness, in Richard Treffry's perennially popular Treatise on Christian Perfection 
(Boston, 1888, and many earlier editions), pp. 213-14. 



assurance that they need have no fear since the Lord would give it all 
back! 21 

The concept of divine immanence was another revival theme which the 
holiness movement expressed in radical terms. In the preaching of the 
evangelists, God was not only transcendent, set over against his creatures. 
He was near at hand. They thought themselves not so much voices 
crying in the wilderness as heralds and footmen for Him who had 
come to baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire and make sinners into 
saints. Christ's judgments were taking place now. He was threshing 
men and institutions on the oor o his righteousness, winnowing the 
wheat from the chaff. 22 

Because of such convictions Finney became the first to elaborate clearly 
the doctrine that the Christian covenant was supreme in human affairs, 
a higher law" than the Constitution. A generation of his co-workers en- 
graved the concept on the minds of praying men while William H. 
Seward was fashioning it into a political creed. 23 Similarly, it was a 
revivalist editor who most fearlessly denounced the sins of the wealthy 
after the financial crash of 1857. Speculators who could pay "decent at- 
tention to the externals of religion on the Sabbath," he cried, while 
ignoring the sufferings of the poor and enslaved and laying an "embargo 
of almost famine prices upon bread," w r ere guilty of "deep-seated, practical 
infidelity." God was "rising out of his place to hear the cry of the 'poor 
and needy' and visit rebuke on their oppressors." 24 

51 Finney, Memoirs, pp. 315-16. A. C, George, "Consecration Must Be Perpetual and 
Active," The Guide to Holiness, II (January-June, 1867), pp. 171-73; c. Richard 
Wheatley, The Life and Letters of Phoebe Palmer (New York, 1876), pp. 569-70. See also, 
'"Not Your Own," The Christian, H (1864), pp. 194-95, for the utterly serious light in 
which holiness Baptists held the doctrine of stewardship. 

52 John R. Bodo, The Protestant Clergy and Public Issues, J 8 12-1848 (Princeton, N. J., 
1954), documents fully the social significance of Calvinist theocratic concepts in the 
period, but without reference to the manner in which revival pleas impressed them upon 
the popular mind. 

38 Charles C. Cole, The Social Ideas of the Northern Evangelists, 1826-1860 (New York, 
1854), pp. 208-10, cites Finney's address of 1839 "before the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society. 
Cf. Gilbert Haven, "The Higher Law," National Sermons, pp. 5-7, 11-13; William 
Hosmer, The Higher Law in Its Relation to Civil Government, with Particular Reference to 
Slavery and the Fugitive Slave Law (Auburn, N. Y., 1852), passim; and Robert D. Clark, 
Life of Matthew Simpson (New York, 1956), pp. 158-60. 

**The Watchman and Reflector, Oct. 8, 1857. See also Jesse T. Peck, "The Burning, 
Fiery Furnace," The Guide to Holiness, XXXffl (January-June, 1858), pp. 1-3; Henry C. 
Fish, Primitive Piety Revived . . . (Boston, 1855), pp. 44-45, 55-62, passim; Olin, Works, 
n, pp. 85-88; and wartime repetitions of the theme in The Watchman and Reflector, edi- 
torials for Jan. 15, and Apr. 9, 1863. 



One form of Calvinist quietism might leave the Almighty to accomplish 
such judgments alone. But the perfectionists joined a thoroughgoing 
attack on sin and a radical doctrine of God's immanence with Arminian 
views of human responsibility, free will, and universal election. True 
enough, wrote William Arthur, only divine power could renew fallen 
men in that holiness the Creator had intended. Statesmen and philanthro- 
pists were too prone to neglect this fact. But, he insisted, evangelical 
Christians on their part had insufficiently studied the relationship of 
personal regeneration to social need and too often rejected organized 
efforts at reform. "Fearful social evils," he warned, 

may coexist with a state of society wherein many are holy, and all have a large 
amount of Christian light. Base usages fostering intemperance, alienation of 
class from class in feeling and interest, systematic frauds in commerce, neglect of 
workmen by masters, neglect of children by their parents, whole classes living 
by sin, usages checking marriage and encouraging licentiousness, human dwell- 
ings which make the idea of home odious, and the existence of modesty im- 
possible, are but specimens of the evils which may be left age after age, cursing 
a people among whom Christianity is the recognized standard of society. 25 

To be indifferent to these things, Arthur continued, was as unfaithful 
to Christian morals as <f hoping to remedy them without spreading practical 
holiness among individuals 15 was contrary to gospel truth. Some pre- 
millenmalists and Calvinists, he said, might be willing to believe that the 
Christian dispensation was "a kind of interlude between the Lord's life- 
time upon earth and a future earthly reign," in which the gospel was 
preached "for the conversion of a few and the condemnation of the 
many." But Arthur believed that the nineteenth-century revival of holiness 
proved that Christ was here now, in the person of the Holy Spirit, 
accomplishing the regeneration of the earth which must precede his 
personal reign. What every Christian needed to speed the fulfillment of 
this plan was the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. 28 

As late as 1883 Daniel Steele, leader of a coterie of Boston University 
professors promoting sanctification, wrote a preface for Catherine 
Booth's Aggressive Christianity which praised her for believing that the 
gospel aims both to destroy sin in the individual soul "through the power of 
the Holy Spirit wholly sanctifying it by the instantaneous finishing stroke 

99 Arthur, Tongue of Fire, pp, 129-30; see pp. 110-129, 
"IfridL, pp. 335, 34647, 348-50. 



given to original sin" and to banish sin from society as well, until the 
whole world is subdued "to Jesus, its rightful King." Catherine Booth, 
Steele wrote, was "no gloomy pessimist, wailing the decay of Christianity." 
Rather, she understood "this glorious consummation" to be "within the 
reach of the present generation of believers/* if only they would allow 
the Holy Spirit a complete, a sanctifying control. 27 

The revival idea that love to God and man was the chief fruit of 
Christian experience had equally significant consequences in social 
theory. Here, too, the propagandists of perfection occupied the highest 
ground. Finney, Boardman, and Phoebe Palmer were convincing preachers 
of charity precisely because they believed themselves forever indebted 
to God's saving compassion and sanctified in the fullness of his love. 

A major burden of Mrs. Palmer's preaching and writing was to warn 
converts against selfishly seeking "ecstatic enjoyment." Holiness made one 
a servant at times a suffering servant of his fellow men. "Sympathy 
with Jesus in the great work which brought him from heaven to earth" 
and the achievement of "entire unselfishness" were to her the true marks 
of sanctification. She was thus fully in accord with Wesley's doctrine that 
the second work of grace replaced the carnal mind with a dominant "holy 
temper" of perfect love. 28 Whether such a transformation actually took 
place is less important to historical analysis than the fact that thousands 
believed it had and testified publicly to the fact, placing themselves under 
a double compulsion to live as if it were true. 

Methodist social teachings were saturated with this notion. The essence 
of the Christian revelation seemed to two New England pastors to be "the 
mighty outbreaking of an infinite heart" rather than merely "an effulgence 
of the infinite mind/ 9 Christ's true followers, one of them wrote, must 
partake of his "purest sympathy for human suffering" and devote their 
money and time to relieving the poor. 2 The editor of Zioris Herald 
maintained that "true Christian charity," bom of love for the Lord, com- 
prehended *Tx>th the complex nature of men and the true philosophy of 

** Catherine Booth, Aggressive Christianity: Practical Sermons (Boston, 1883), pp. 11- 
12. Of. William Booth, In Darkest England and the Way Out (New York, 1890), preface. 

88 Wheatley, Phoebe Palmer, pp. 529-31, 546. See earlier, p. 144. Cf. Thomas C. 
Upham, Life and Religious Opinions and Experience of Madame de la Mothe Guyon . . . 
(New York, 1874), I, vi 

** L. P. Brockett, 'The Relation of Christianity to Humanitarian Effort," The Methodist 
Quarterly Review, XL (1858), pp. 455-57; Charles Mams, "Charity to the Poor," in 
dark, Methodist Episcopal Pulpit, pp. 292-94, 297-98. Contrast Hopkins, Social Gospel, 
p. 318. 



social regeneration/* It ministered alike to temporal and spiritual needs. 80 
According to William Arthur, the chief aim of Christianity was "to unite 
all men in loving brotherhood." The "family feeling'* which glowed in the 
church after Pentecost and still lived in Methodist testimony and class 
meetings was to become the divine order of society. 81 Such an emotion 
enabled even a loyal Methodist like Nathan Bangs to transcend denomina- 
tional prejudice, and caused another to believe, in the year of the great 
revival, that though slavery was not yet destroyed, sympathy for "the 
whole human brotherhood" would increase till the millennial triumph, when 
"health, holiness, and happiness" would pervade the earth* 32 

A precisely similar mood carried Frederic Dan Huntington through the 
period of his evangelical conversion to the time when, as Episcopal bishop 
of western New York, he was to spearhead the social crusade in that 
denomination. Huntington served until his death as the first president of 
the Church Association in the Interests of Labor, wrote numerous tracts 
supporting Christian socialism, championed the rights of the Onondaga 
Indians, and, with his son, the Rev. James Huntington, opened at Syracuse 
in 1877 a "shelter" for unwed mothers. 33 "God binds men together/' he 
wrote in 1862, "and trains them up through the mutual affections, sacri- 
fices, and services of corporate institutions: first the Family, secondly the 
State, thirdly the Church." The philosophy of "sheer individualism" is 
unchristian, Huntington continued. It violates the purest and most un- 
selfish aspirations of humanity. "Christ comes, not to make righteous 
individuals, but to build a righteous kingdom, whereof each individual 
is a member, so that no one can say to another, I have no need of thee." M 

Edward Beecher long before had pointed to the power of such sentiments, 
in a flaming appeal for social reconstruction published in 1835. The 
kingdom of Christ was first of all spiritual, he declared, and could "make 
no real progress except by an increase in holiness/' This alone could 

*Zion's Herald, Dec, 13, 1854. But contrast Jesse T. Crane, "The Moral Value of a 
Material World," The Methodist Quarterly Review, XL (1858), p . 234. 

81 Arthur, Tongue of Fire, pp. 117, 138-41; contrast generally the whole passage, "Fel- 
lowship and Brotherhood," pp. 137-44, with the traditional churchly view in Philip Schaff, 
America . . . (New York, 1855), p. 123. 

32 L. P. Brockett, loc. cit., pp. 470-71; Ahel Stevens, Life and Times of Nathan Bongs, 
D.D. (New York, 1863), p. 363. 

83 See Arria S. Huntington, Memoir and Letters of Frederic Dan Huntington . . . 
(Boston, 1906), pp. 324-28, 353, 355-56; and Huntington's sermon on "The Social 
Conscience," Christian Believing and Living (New York, 1859), p. 438. 

** Arria Huntington, Huntington, p. 251. C. the prospectus of his journal, The Chwck 
Monthly, I (1861), p. 1. 



produce the personal consecration, the "moral sensibility to the evils of 
sin/* and the brotherly love among denominations necessary to the 
regeneration of the world. 35 "There is a state of mind," Beecher cried, 
"which if first produced will secure all else ... by the spontaneous im- 
pulse of ardent and overflowing love." It is "that SUPREME DEVOTEDNESS 
TO GOB" which makes it "essential to our happiness" to do all we 
can for him. The times demanded "Holy Emotion, full and ardent to the 
highest degree.'* 36 Harriet Beecher Stowe was to demonstrate the truth 
of this contention twenty years later in a way her brother scarcely could 
have foreseen, when she fired antislavery sentiments with the story of 
Topsy and Little Eva ? Simon Legree and Uncle Tom. Scores of reformers, 
from John B. Gough of temperance fame to William Jennings Bryan, 
operated on the same plan. 31 

Beecher's statement illustrates the emotional fanaticism which, as Oliver 
W. Elsbree pointed out twenty years ago, Samuel Hopldns's doctrine of 
"disinterested benevolence" inspired among American Calvinists, thrusting 
them into social crusades which coolly rational men might approve but 
scarcely join. Hopkins, who was in early life a close associate of Jonathan 
Edwards and pastor from 1770-1803 of the Congregational church at 
Newport, Rhode Island, exerted an immense influence over the younger 
clergy, largely through his complete dedication to the things of the Spirit. 
He taught that the truly consecrated Christian must so fully love the Lord 
as to be willing if need be to be damned for his glory. 38 

The kinship between "Hopldnsianism" and the Methodist doctrine 
of perfect love was evident throughout the nineteenth century. Wellman J. 
Warner, a student of R. H. Tawney, expounded in 1930 the impact of 
Wesleyan perfectionism on early English industrial society, in a volume 
which American writers rarely cite. The experience of sanctification, 

88 Edward Beecher, "The Nature, Importance, and Means of Eminent Holiness 
Throughout the Church," The American National Preacher, X (1835), pp. 195, 197 198 
201; cf. pp. 209, 212. ' 

86 Ibid., pp. 203, 219. 

* f See earlier, pp. 88, 105; Ralph H. Gabriel, "Evangelical Religion and Popular Romanti- 
cism in Early Nineteenth-Century America," Church History, XIX (1950), pp. 42-45; and 
Richard Hofetadter's essay on Bryan, "The Democrat as Revivalist," in his The American 
Political Tradition (New York, 1948). 

88 Oliver Wendell Elsbree, "Samuel Hopkins and the Doctrine of Benevolence," The 
New England Quarterly, VIE (1935), pp. 535, 548-49. Elsbree libels the Methodists, 
as Hopkins, Social Gospel, a volume which seems preoccupied with the transformation of 
conservative Calvinism, neglects them: see pp. 25, 36, 43-48, 86 ff., 99, 102, 113, 238, 
289-92. C John M. Meddin, The Story of American Dissent (New York, 1934), pp. 



Warner said, socialized the individual disposition and released in men the 
mystic power to make benevolent motives work. 39 

Thus did the mid-century preachers furrow the ground from which the 
social gospel sprang. Evangelists facing urban challenges early proclaimed 
the unity and interdependence of the race* Edward Beecher, E. N. Kirk, 
Albert Barnes, George B. Cheever, and a host of lesser men saw with 
surprising clarity the social implications of their prized ideals of righteous 
living, brotherly love, and the immanence of God through the outpoured 
Holy Spirit. They moved rapidly toward a systematic elaboration of 
Christian humanitarian doctrine. Perfectionists like Finney and William 
Arthur, who added to these ideals a passion for full personal consecration 
and freedom from all sin, actually led the way. By the time of the Civil 
War the conviction had become commonplace that society must be recon- 
structed through the power of a sanctifying gospel and all the evils of 
cruelty, slavery, poverty, and greed be done away. The enlargement of 
millennial hopes, as we shall see later on, illustrates and in part explains 
the churchman's new sense of social responsibility. 

Only their evangelical trust in divine grace to supplement human efforts 
and their retention of the historic "heavenly hope" of the faith set these 
pioneers apart from the Christian social reformers of a later age. The 
doctrine of divine immanence set forth in the "Andover Theology" in 
1880 was, in fact, no more than a tepid restatement of liberal revivalist 
thinking on the subject during the preceding forty years. The volume 
entitled Progressive Orthodoxy, which announced the Andover platform, 
stressed the regenerating, perfecting power of God in the soul in the 
same way as had William Arthur and Asa Mahan. The opinion that the 
aim of the gospel was to produce in individuals an "actual and manifest 
likeness to Christ," which would, by its spread, renovate the whole of 
society, was by then new only to those who persisted in their devotion 
to Orthodox Calvinism. Thomas C. Upham, the philosopher of mystic 
perfectionism, had stated it formally in 1852. 40 Only the more or less 

80 Wellman Joel Warner, The Wesleyan Movement in the Industrial Revolution (Lon- 
don, 1930), pp. 65-66; see also pp. 61-72, 281-82. Contrast Hunter Dickinson Parish, The 
Circuit Rider Dismounts; a Social History of Southern Methodism, 1 865-1 900 (Richmond, 
Va., 1938), pp. 71-72; and Sidney E. Mead's review of Wade Crawford Barclay, Early 
American Methodism, 1769-1844, Vol. II, To Reform the Nation (History of American 
Methodism, Part I, New York, 1949), in The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., VII 
(1951), pp. 596-98. 

40 See Thomas C. Upham, A Treatise on Divine Union . . . (Boston, 1852), pp. 267-68; 
Progressive Orthodoxy: a Contribution to the Christian Interpretation of Christian Doctrines, 



conscious relation of the idea to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was 
novel, something scarcely possible for men who wrote before 1865. 

If God seemed near in nineteenth-century America, it was not because an 
elite circle of theologians read Darwin's book on The Descent of Man. It 
was rather due to the fact that in countless revivals the "tongue of fire" had 
descended on the disciples, freeing them from the bondage of sin and 
selfishness, and dedicating them to the task of making over the world. Nor 
was the Christian contribution to the nation's heritage of hope simply 
belief in the rational perfectibility of men who had not "committed" 
original sin, 41 Another optimism was abroad in the land, one tied more 
closely to the religious traditions of the people. It promised a baptism of 
the Holy Ghost which would purify men's hearts by faith and bring them 
into fellowship with Christ's self-denying love. In 1870 John Humphrey 
Noyes, the most radical "perfectionist" of them all, predicted that "the next 
phase of National history will be that of Revivalism and Socialism, 
harmonized and working together for the Kingdom of Heaven/' 42 

by the Editors of "The Andover Review" (Boston, 1886), pp. 126-27; Sidney E. 
Nathaniel W Taylor, 1786-1858, A Connecticut Liberal (dSLgo, 1942), pp. viS-ix 2 
33; and Hopkins, Social Gospel, pp. 61-66, 115. 

"See Boyd C , Shafe "TTie American Heritage o Hope, 1865-1940," The Mississippi 
Valley Historical Review, XXXVH (1950-51), pp. 440-41. 

, . . 

A Mn Hiimpkrey Noyes, The History of American Socialisms (Phila- 

delphia, 1870), p. 28, in Alice Felt Tyler, Freedom's Ferment ... p. 186. 



The Churches Help the Poor 

The acid test of social theories is their exemplification in 
practice. Even in this 'land of plenty" poverty became a persistent reality 
after 1837. It stemmed in part from the new immigration and the un- 
certainties of employment in an infant industrial economy. But the Calvinist 
ethic of frugality and industry, which held individuals morally accountable 
for their destitution, was the prevailing tradition in America. Almsgiving 
was frequently regarded as an undue interference with divine justice. 
What, then, did the churches actually do to help the underprivileged in 
the twenty years after 1840? The answer to this question will serve to 
measure the sincerity of the new social concern. 

In a charity sermon which he preached in Boston during the revival of 
1842, evangelist Edward Morris Kirk warned that the rise of urban poverty 
in America posed a new challenge to religion. "Our whole system of educa- 
tion, our modes of life, our very standards of personal piety," declared the 
newly called pastor of Mt. Vernon Congregational Church, "need great 
renovation." Instead of shielding their children from the knowledge of 
suffering, parents must teach them "that the removal of human wretched- 
ness, and the elevation of degraded man is the business of life." He 
denounced those who opposed charity on the grounds that it frustrated 
God's punishment of vice and indolence, noting Albert Barnes's argument 
that medical care and the preaching of the gospel were open to the same 
objection. Nor would indiscriminate almsgiving do. "When men love 
their neighbors as themselves, the causes of poverty will be sought out, 
and the remedy applied as far as possible." 1 It was too soon for men like 
Kirk to recognize much more than personal factors like "improvidence, 
intemperance, and discouragement" among those causes. But he was 
courageous enough to assert that by catering to the upper classes, the 
churches contributed to Sabbath drunkenness, and that in any case, none 
had the right to allow children to suffer for their parents* sins. 2 

1 Edward Noiris Kirk, A Plea for the Poor . . . (Boston, 1843), pp. 20, 23, 26, 40. 
*Ibid., pp. 28-36. 



Such evangelical concern for the plight of the masses increased steadily. 
Thirteen years later the editors of The Independent scornfully dismissed a 
move for a Congregational liturgy on the grounds that city churches had 
already neglected too much "the immense class of working poor" to 
favor "the rich and comfortable." The usual "Sabbath feasts of taste and 
music," where "sweet moods of pensive thought" soothed the minds of 
those who spent the week in a "pleasant, trivial round of parlor-parties" 
were, the editors declared, unworthy of men who claimed to follow 
Christ's "stem life of continued self-forgetfulness." 8 

A year before the same journal had regretted the spasmodic nature of 
most poor relief, especially its failure to deal with the economic factors in 
urban destitution. Cities attracted impoverished migrants while at the 
same time giving businessmen the opportunity to amass fortunes quickly. 
Sharp contrasts became a plague. The "numerous and multiplying institutions 
of benevolence and reform" were, the editors believed, praiseworthy 
improvements over the private charity upon which village and farming 
communities still relied. But until "the great question of wages" was 
solved, the chasm between rich and poor ivould open wider every day. 
For the time being, however, they dared only to advocate 'low rents, 
commodious, cleanly, healthy buildings, upon the most approved plan of 
lodging-houses," and the Maine prohibition law "in its most stringent 
application." 4 

The movement of churches to the uptown areas, where "worship was 
conditioned on a good pew rent," alarmed those who shared this concern. 5 
That competition in impressive edifices toppled even Baptist and Meth- 
odist prejudices against pew rents helped to dramatize the issue. The 
General Conference of the latter church voted in 1852 to sanction the 
practice, already prevalent in Boston, after prominent New Yorkers spoke in 
its support. Though the pastoral address of the conference deplored the 
growing love of riches and advised that Wesley's followers should avoid 
costly buildings, their metropolitan congregations, as one wag commented, 
went so far over to "pewsyism" as to leave the free-church field to the 
Episcopalians and the Broadway Tabernacle. 6 

* "A Gospel to the Rich," The Independent, May 24, 1855. 

4 "How to Help the Poor/' die same, May 25, 1854; "Poverty in Cities," the same, 
Dec. 28, 1854. See the answer to the earlier article, " 'Cures* for Social Diseases" June 
8, 1854. 

* "A Gospel to the Rich." !oc. cit.; 'The Broadway Tabernacle Downtown Churches/' 
the same, July 19, 1855. 

* Zion's Herald, June 16, 1852 reports hoth the debates and the pastoral address. See 



During the Civil War Hiram Mattison and several other dissident clergy- 
men who had heen fighting for lay representation in the annual and 
general conferences organized The Independent Methodist Church. Its 
major objects were declared to be 

to cany the Gospel to the poor; to unite different denominations for home mis- 
sion purposes; to establish union churches in waste places where no single sect 
could succeed; to meet in halls and cheap places for worship, so as to avoid 
unnecessary expense; and to come back as far as possible to die faith and zeal 
and simplicity of the Puritans and the early Methodists. 

The Boston unit was described as "Congregational in government, Baptist 
as respects immersion, and Methodist in doctrine and modes of worship." T 

Stephen Colwell, a Pennsylvania ironmaster and Old School Pres- 
byterian layman, aroused interest in other aspects of the problem through 
the controversial volume, New Themes for the Protestant Clergy, which 
he published anonymously in 1851. In appearance this strange boot was 
a vigorous attack on Protestant neglect of the poor, particularly in Philadel- 
phia. Its less obvious purpose was to refute the principles of organized 
benevolence and make way for ColwelTs own many-sided social program. 
The latter included tariffs and other legislation to protect workmen's wages 
(he did not mention manufacturers' profits), and the union of all Protestant 
sects, so as to enable them to Christianize the school system, restrain the 
power of Catholicism, and subject American politics to the rule of religion. 8 

Samuel Allibone, an Episcopal laymen prominent in the Philadelphia 
Sunday School Union, who was later to achieve modest fame as a literary 

also George Prentice, The Life of Gilbert Haven., Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church (New York, 1883), pp. 149, 272; James Waddeli Alexander, Forty Years' Familiar 
Letters . . . (New York, 1860), II, pp. 282, 283; The Watchman and Reflector, Dec. 7, 
1854; and Stephen Olin, The Works of Stephen Olin, D.D., L.L.D. (New York, 1860), 
I, pp. 85-87. See earlier, pp. 65-66. 

7 The Independent, Sept. 10, 1863; The American Missionary (Magazine), VI (1862), 
p. 35. 

8 Stephen Colwell, New Themes for the Protestant Clergy: Creeds Without Charity, 
Theology Without Humanity, and Protestantism Without Chrisianity . . . (Philadelphia, 
1851), pp. 161-62, 242, 263-64, 272-75; Stephen Colwell, The Position of Christianity in 
the United States . . . (Philadelphia, 1854), pp. 78-81, 89, 98, 100-13, passim. 

Broadus Mitchell wrote the D.A.B. sketch. ColwelFs other works which hear on the 
argument raised in New Themes include: Some Aid to a Clear Perception of Our Actual 
Dependence upon Home Production . . . (Johnathan B. Wise, pseud., Philadelphia, 1849); 
Politics for American Citizens . . . (Philadelphia, 1852); and The Claims of LaW, and 
Their Precedence to the Claims of free Trade (Philadelphia, 1861). 



bibliographer, retorted in a long review that Colwell had willfully ignored 
the great amount of charitable work the Philadelphia churches performed. 
He had, moreover, spared the Catholic clergy, disregarded the relation 
of intemperance to pauperism, and indulged in such general bitterness as 
to cause some booksellers to reject the volume, thinking it written by an 
infidel. If its author attended church, Allibone wrote, he was probably 
not aware that many of the people with whom he sat had spent part of 
the week searching out the needy in their homes, bringing them spiritual 
and material aid. 

It was the first clash in what became the farniliar battle between those 
who labored with the roots of social ills and those who dealt with symptoms. 
Allibone's naivete in social economics was no worse, however, than Col- 
well's romantic trust in capitalism and Christian virtue. Aside from legisla- 
tion to protect workers from unfair competition, the author of New Themes 
would leave all charity to private initiative. "The work of the real disciples 
of Christ, 1 * he wrote, "must be performed by them individually, and not by 
the church." The love for men which ought to "glow in the bosom of 
individual Christians'* could "never dwell in a corporation or ecclesiastical 
organization/* 10 In a later book he declared that the world was rejecting 
the "sectarian churches" and coming rather to rely upon "the invisible 
workings of sanctified human affections . . . being exerted in every practi- 
cable direction for both the earthly and heavenly interests" of men. The 
pastor of the largest Old School congregation in New York City wrote 
to a friend at Princeton that Colwell seemed to favor a plan which should 
"dissolve all churches, charities, and associations, and solve the great social 
problem by this formula, 'Let every man be perfectly good.' " ll 

An argument between Old School Presbyterians is, however, scarcely a 
reliable index to the social thought of American Protestants. Reactionary 
Calvinists might still rant that the "increase of a spurious charity" in 
organizations which ignored "the doctrine, form of government, worship, 

* Samuel A. AHibone, A Review, by a Layman, of a Work Entitled, "New Themes for 
the Protestant Clergy . . ." (Philadelphia, 1852 ) > p . ^ an | generally, pp. 17-22, 30-37, 
56-58, 73, 81-96. Cf. QjlweE, New Themes, pp. 173, 187-88, and especially 18S-85, where 
lie scores the Catholic social philosophy but praises the church's concern for the poor. Victor 
H. Paltsits wrote the sketch of Allibone in the D.A.B. 

10 Colwell, New Themes, pp. 161-62, 242, 272-73; Allibone, Review, pp. 31, 52. Aaron 
I. Abell, The Urban Impact on American Protestantism, 1 865-1 900 (^Harvard Historical 
Studies, LTV, Cambridge, 1943), pp. 4-5, relies uncritically on Colwell. 

11 Colwell, Position of Christianity, pp. 134-35j Alexander, Familiar Letters, n, 166; 
c p. 275. 



and discipline which the Bible teaches" was "ineffectual for the elevation 
and purification of mankind/' But few would listen to them. 12 

The experience of evangelicals in co-operative benevolent and missionary 
enterprises was rapidly awakening a new sense of responsibility for those 
whom a soulless industrial system had thrown upon the refuse heap o the 
city's slums. The American Sunday School Union, for example, gave in- 
creasing attention to unchurched urban children. William E. Boardman was 
called from the Michigan frontier in 1855 to direct the "Students Mission 
Service," which gave hundreds of future ministers an unforgettable contact 
with impoverishment. By 1859 the New York City chapter of the Union 
reported that 40 per cent of the 65,000 who attended its schools were from 
families which did not attend church. 13 

Local units of the Home Missionary and Tract societies performed similar 
roles, moving rapidly from simple evangelism to the establishment of mission 
churches and Sunday schools, job placement, resettlement of destitute 
children and youths, and the distribution of clothing, food, and money 
to the poor. 14 Samuel Allibone described how 5,000 volunteers, represent- 
ing most of the 160 church-sponsored and 40 other charitable societies in 
Philadelphia, had divided the city into sections for systematic visitation and 
relief of every indigent home. 15 Better organization and more intelligent 
planning might come after the war, but they would never kindle greater 

In a similar manner, the first twenty-five years of temperance agitation 
awakened Christian sensitivity to social need. It also spread the thesis that 
society was responsible for some poor men's sins. "So long as religion stands 
by/* wrote Thomas Guthrie, "silent and unprotesting against the tempta- 
tions with which men, greedy of gain, and Governments, greedy of revenue, 
surround the wretched victims of this basest vice ... it appears to me utter 
mockery for her to go with the word of God in her hand, teaching them 

18 Alexander BlaiHe, The Philosophy of Sectarianism . . . (2nd dL, Boston, 1855), 
pp. v-vi; c. pp. 240-4), 297. 

18 Mary M. Boardman (Mrs. W. E.), Life and Labours of the Rev. W. E. Boardman 
CNew York, 1887), pp. 99-101; anon., The American Christian Record . . . (New York, 
1860), p. 358. The latter volume, pp. 298-309, 337-39, 401 and passim, contains statistical 
summaries of the work of various Benevolent societies. 

14 See The Puritan Recorder, Feb. 2 and 23, 1854, for reports of the Boston City 
Missionary Society and the Albany City Tract Society; The Watchman and Reflector, 
March 16, 1854, Feb. 12, 1857, Apr. 29, 1858, and Feb. 26, 1863, for samples of similar 
reports on other organizations, tie last referring to the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, city 
mission; and William Taylor, Story of My Ufe . . . (New York, 1896), pp. 232-33. 

15 AIKbone, Bevfew, pp. 60-66. 



to say, Head us not into temptation/ '* 18 Though the temperance move- 
ment stemmed from the Puritan zeal of evangelists like Edward Beecher, 
Edward N. Kirk, Emerson Andrews, Finney, Barnes, and the Methodists, 
its aim was to reform society, not simply to regulate private behavior. 11 Its 
supporters were convinced that drunkenness was the prime cause of 
pauperism. They seem to have fixed the conviction in many minds that to 
banish one was to destroy the other. Even The Atlantic Monthly managed 
a hurrah in one of its early issues for ministers who carried on the fight 
against "drunkenness and want, ignorance, idleness," and 'lust/' 18 

That intemperance seemed to go hand in hand with Roman Catholic 
immigration served only to heighten evangelical solicitude. In sharp con- 
trast to those who allowed hatred of the hierarchy or fear for their own 
economic security to destroy compassion for the unfortunate, the revivalists 
believed the churches 1 task was to save Catholics, not scorn them. In order 
to meet the challenge, Robert Baird and others organized in the 1830 J s The 
Foreign Evangelical Society, the American Protestant Society, and, later, 
the Christian Alliance. These all merged in 1849 to form The American 
and Foreign Christian Union, with Baird as publicist and chief agent. 
Many thoughtful men considered such efforts an integral part of the plan 
for the redemption of the race. 19 

Finally, the example of Christian welfare work in the Old World 
confirmed the dawning awareness of obligation to the poor. Religious 
newspapers reviewed English books and pointed to European examples 
in tfieir efforts to quicken humanitarian impulses* In a famous volume 
describing the vices of city life, Thomas Guthrie, the Scottish pioneer of 

18 Thomas Guthrie, The City: Its Sins and Its Sorrows . . . (Glasgow, 1862), p. 60. 
Many other editions of this work appeared in England and America between 1857 and 

17 See Horace BushncII, Work and Play, or Literary Varieties (New York, 1864), pp. 
99-100; Philip Schaff, America. . . . (New York, 1855), pp. 45-46; and Charles C. Cole, 
The Social Ideas of the Northern Evangelists, 1826-1860 (New York, 1954), pp. 116-24* 

For the revivalists who took an early lead in the crusade, see David O. Mears, Life of 
Edward Norris Kirk (Boston, 1877), pp. 75-90; Hemy Martyn Baird, Life of the Rev. 
Robert Baird, DJD. (New York, 1866), pp. 105-43, on the temperance mission in Europe, 
and pp. 341 ff.* Emerson Andrews, Lsving Life or Autobiography . . . (Boston, 1875), p. 69; 
George Prentice, Wilbur Ksfc (Boston, 1890), pp. 180-94. 

18 Allibone, Review, pp. 81-96; The Atlantic Monthly, I (1858), p. 864. 

19 See James W. Alexander, The Revwd and Its Lessons . , . (New York, 1858), pp. 
176, 177-82; The Watchman and Reflector, Sept. 3, 1857; the articles cited earlier in The 
Independent, May 25, June 8, and Dec. 28, 1854; H. M. Baird, Baird, pp. 99, 253. C. Ray 
Allen BiHington, The Protestant Crusade, 1800-1860. A Study of the Origins of American 

(New York, 1938), pp. 322 ff. 



"ragged schools," helped to popularize a threefold program of education, 
prohibition, and Protestant union for systematic evangelism and "benevo- 
lence. The plan was neatly tailored to fit American conditions. His scheme 
of dividing cities into areas assigned to each congregation, copied from a 
successful long-term experiment in Hamburg, Germany, was exactly the 
same as that in operation in Philadelphia in 185L 20 Aswe have seen, the 
plan spread to all major cities during and after the great revival, driving 
thousands of middle-class churchmen into the alleys and cellars which the 
poor called home. Once there, they could not rest content with a purely 
personal and "spiritual" ministry. 21 

Phoebe Palmer's pioneer work in social welfare projects illustrates the 
part which urban evangelization played in the origins of the Christian social 
movement. She enrolled as a tract distributor in New York's slums in the 
early 1840's and retained a regular assignment until long after she had 
become Methodism's most prominent perfectionist leader. At the same time 
she began taking part in prison ministry at the Tombs. Then followed a 
sucessful agitation in the Ladies Home Missionary Society of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church for the establishment of Hedding Church, a 
mission to the poor. In 1854 Dr. and Mrs. Palmer withdrew from the 
Allen Street congregation to join another Methodist mission church. 

Very early in these activities Mrs. Palmer began making generous per- 
sonal gifts to meet material needs she found in the slums. She expressed 
disdain for "the querulous spirit which is ever denouncing the rich, merely 
because they are so/ 1 but warned that great possessions were a curse to 
those who did not hold them "as social responsibilities, for which an 
account of stewardship must be rendered." By 1847 she was correspond- 
ing secretary of The New York Female Assistance Society for the Relief 
and Religious Instruction of the Sick Poor, an office which she held for 
eleven years. At the same time she supported at least one orphanage and 
other charities. 22 

*Guthrie, The City, pp. 85, 87, 107-8 and, in general, 33-63. Cf. "Sin and Sorrow 
in the Cities," The Watchman and Reflector, Dec. 3, 1857; The Independent, Sept. 25, 
1851, for an essay on English "open-air preaching"; and Alexander, Familiar Letters, II, 
pp. 275, 282. 

S1 See again, earlier, pp. 65-66. Cf. Alexander, The Revival, p, 11, and Henry M. 
Dexter, The Spread of the Gospel in the City Among the Poor . . . (Boston, 1866), pp. 8- 
10, for later promotion of the plan. 

21 Richard Wheatley, The Life and Letters of Phoebe Palmer (New Yorlc, 1876), pp. 
205-10, 214-27, 189-91, 600-01. On Wheatley's interest in social work, sec Matthew 

Simpson, Cyclopedia of Methodism (Philadelphia, 1878), p. 936. 



Phoebe Palmer's crowning achievement, however, was the founding in 
1850 of the Five Points Mission, to which can be traced the beginnings 
of Protestant institutional work in the slums. The Ladies Home Missionary 
Society had already established seven other missions to the poor when Mrs. 
Palmer persuaded its advisory committee of Methodist men to buy and 
demolish the "Old Brewery," located in the city's most squalid neighbor- 
hood, and build accommodations for an early type of setdement house. 
Among those prominent in the men's group were Bishop Edmund S. 
Janes, Dr. Palmer, W. B. Slddmore, Leonard Kirby, and Daniel Drew. 
The new structure contained a chapel, parsonage, schoolrooms, baths, and 
twenty apartments designed to be furnished without charge to families 
who would otherwise support themselves and obey the rules of the 
mission. The New York Conference appointed as minister in charge the 
Rev. Lewis Morris Pease. The project caught the public imagination 
immediately, especially after five Broadway hotels provided Thanksgiving 
dinners for five hundred persons that fall. 23 

Long before the mission quarters were completed, however, Pease 
realized that something more than sermons would be required to reclaim 
derelict women and their children. They needed jobs, food, clothing, and 
the kind of home where, In the absence of husbands and fathers, they 
could be gradually restored to a self-respecting life. The "family apart- 
ments*' were plainly going to be of little help. Although the officers of 
die ladies' missionary society at first believed that their constitution 
prohibited them from supporting his plan, the pastor, acting on his own 
initiative, persuaded a shirt manufacturer to let out piece work and turned 
the rented hall which was a gospel center at night into a garment shop by 

When Pease and his wife proposed to move their home into the Five 
Points, however, the women turned thumbs down. He resigned and 
rented two dwellings, conveniendy emptied when a friendly judge arranged 
a police raid. There he opened The Five Points House of Industry. By 
1854 his organization was supporting five hundred people. 24 

Both institutions continued thereafter side by side. The Methodist 

38 The Independent, Dec, 19, 1850; Henry Cammann and H. N. Camp, The Charities 
of New York, BrooUyn and Staten Island (New York, 1868), pp. 349-60. 

s *See Cammann and Camp, oj?. eft., pp. 303-14; and "The Five Points House of 
Industry," The American Church Monthly, HI (1858), pp. 216-22, for general accounts, 
the latter quite scornful o the religious predilections of the Ladies Home Missionary 



women soon decided that day schools, placement of Indigent children 
in the country, and the distribution of food and clothing were within 
their province. Numerous pamphlets and short-lived periodicals publicized 
the settlements. Religious journals of all persuasions praised them highly. 25 
Low Church Episcopalians seem by 1856 to have provided most of 
Pease's support. His new six-story building, completed that year, housed 
shops, schoolrooms, living quarters, and a chapel. The Five Points became 
a regular stop for visitors interested in the wonders of New York piety. 26 

Similar ventures multiplied rapidly elsewhere, particularly among 
Methodist women whose spiritual emancipation was achieved in weekday 
meetings for the promotion of holiness. Some of the group surrounding 
Mrs. Palmer helped to organize in 1858 The Ladies Christian Association 
of the City of New York, later called The Ladies Christian Union. It 
pioneered in the endeavors which the Y.W.C.A. was later to carry on, 
early supplementing prayer meetings and Bible classes with a boarding- 
house at 67 Amity place and a ' young women's home" on Fourteenth 
Street. Others served on the governing boards of a rescue home for young 
delinquents, "half prison and half school," an asylum for the deaf, and 
another which in 1854 sheltered 500 Negro orphans. 27 When Chicago 
Methodist women organized to support a rescue venture modeled after 
the Five Points, The Northwestern Christian Advocate prophesied that 
the cause of city missions was "destined to actuate the heart of the church 
with a power little dreamed of." 28 

The missions to immigrants and sailors which had long engaged the 
attention of the most fervently pious Methodists now gained new support 

**Zion's HeraU, Dec. 27, 1854; The Puritan Recorder, Feb. 23, 1854; The Methodist 
Quarterly Review, XXXVI (1854), p. 315; The Independent, March 29, 1855. See also 
The Old Brewery, and the New Mission House at the Five Points. By the Ladies of the 
Mission (New York, 1854); and, anon., American Christian Record, pp. 380, 401, the 
latter providing statistics for both organizations in 1859. 

ae "The Five Points House of Industry," loc. tit., pp. 220-22; anon., America As I 
Found It (London, 1852), pp. 66-68; Amelia Murray, Letters from The United States, 
Cuba, and Canada (New York, 1856), p. 157. 

37 James Dixon, Personal Narrative of a TOUT Through a Part of The United States 
and Canada . . . (New York, 1849), p. 45; anon., America As I Found It, pp. 64-66; J. H. 
Grand Pierre, A Parisian Pastor's Glance at America (Boston, 1854), p. 83. 

Cammann and Camp, Chanties, pp. 34, 264, 349-60, 503-4, 509, show that Mrs. 
C. R, Duel, Mrs. W. B. Skidmore, Mrs. S. A. Lankford, and Mrs. J. A. Wright, all of 
them Mrs. Palmer's associates, were prominent in the activities of The New York State 
Women's Hospital, The Colored Orphans Asylum, and The Ladies Christian Associa- 
tion. For the prominence of women on the governing boards and visiting committees of 
many of such charities, see pp. 33, 81, 214, 223, 256, 264, 282, 287, 329, and passim. 

** The Christian Advocate and Journal f Jan. 18, 1855; Cf. Zion's HeraU, Nov. 24, 1852. 



and extended their social ministry. Baptist "seamen's bethels" also appeared 
in New York, Boston, and other cities. 29 Stephen H. Tyng, the most 
prominent Episcopal clergyman in the nation and leader of the church's 
evangelical wing, was the guiding spirit in The American Female 
Guardian Society and Home for the Friendless, after he became pastor in 
1845 of St. George's Church, New York. By 1868 this organization 
maintained six industrial schools; numerous "visitation committees" sought 
out candidates for its care. 30 In Boston, Unitarians established the Tempo- 
rary Home for the Destitute, which specialized in resettling children, 
and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church conducted an intensely evangelistic 
mission to the poor which in 1860 spent nearly $6,000 for "temporal aid." 31 

By the time of the revival of 1858, in fact, scores of wealthy city 
congregations of all communions operated chapels for the underprivileged 
as a regular part of their work, one in New York having established five. 82 
No fewer than seventy-six missions were functioning in the national 
metropolis at the close of the Civil War, twenty-two of them under the 
city's Mission and Tract society, fourteen attached to Presbyterian churches, 
eight to Episcopal, seven to Methodist, and others variously sponsored. 
Even the Universalist congregation maintained one, located at Third 
Avenue near Fifty-Second Street. 33 

Though Frederic Dan Huntington's dream of a great Episcopal free 
church in Boston's Back Bay district was never realized, the Rector's Aid 
Society in his parish conducted a permanent mission to the poor, estab- 

4:9 See earlier, p. 39, The Watchman and Reflector, Jan. 1854, Apr, 23 and Oct. 8, 
1857, and Feb. 4, 1858; The Puritan Recorder, Feb. 12, 1857, reporting a revival at the 
"Cherry Street Chapel," New York. 

"Cammann and Camp, op. czt., pp. 290 ff. C. Tyng's D.A.B. sketch, by E. Clowes 
Chorley; and Stephen H. Tyng, Lectures on the Law and the Gospel (New York, 1848), 
pp. 235-36, 239, 242, 287-88, for his nearly perfectionist evangelicalism. 

* T The Christian Register, Feb. 6, 1858, p. 1; St. Stephen's Chapel. Report of the 
Mission to the Poor (No. 18, Boston, 1861), pp. 11-15, and passim; and an earlier Report 
(No. 10, Boston, 1853). 

83 Isabella (Bird) Bishop, The Aspects of Religion in The United, States . . . (London, 
1859), pp. 175-76; Alexander, familiar Letters, n, pp. 277, 282; Samuel Irenaeus Prime, 
The Power of Prayer . . . (New York, 1859), pp. 220-52, passim, 258, 262, 263; William 
C. Conant, Narratives of Remarkable Conversions and Revival Incidents . . . (New York, 
1858), pp. 364, 366, 376. Conant was editor o the Five Points Magazine, The Message. 
See earlier, p. 69. 

* 3 These figures are compiled from the tables in New York City Mission and Tract 
Society, Walk About New York, Facts nl figures Gathered, from Various Sources (New 
York, 1865), pp. 19-29. 



lished the nonsectarian Chapel of the Good Shepherd In 1866 and, later 
on, built Huntington House. 34 One of the parishioners, Dr. Charles 
Cullis, like Dr. Walter Palmer a "homeopathic physician/* organized in 
1861, with his pastor's encouragement, a Home for Consumptives. The 
institution soon became famous as a "faith work" because of its methods 
of healing and of raising funds. Relying entirely on gifts from the 
public, in the manner and under the inspiration of George Mueller in 
England, Cullis built eleven cottages on a tract of land at Grove Hall, 
near Boston. In the city, meanwhile, he maintained the Beacon Hill 
Church, the Lewis Mission, Faith Training College, and the Cottage 
Street Church. The good doctor publicized his projects through the Willard 
Tract Depository, a printing firm which early specialized in holiness books 
by Hannah Whitall Smith and William E. Boardman. In 1873 Boardman 
himself prepared the fullest account of Cullis' many ventures. 35 

A chief result of such activities was to marry spiritual to social service. 
Organizations which still specialized in soul winning now carefully 
defined the import of that work for the improvement of society. The 
annual report of the New York City Tract Society for 1859, for example, 
claimed that an apprenticeship in tract visitation had trained and inspired 
the men who later founded some of Manhattan's largest charitable en- 
deavors. Samuel R. Halliday, who began his career in this way, served in 
turn as city missionary in Providence, Rhode Island, head of The Five 
Points House of Industry, and, finally, as parish assistant to Henry Ward 
Beecher. The Methodist clergyman who first proposed streamlining and 
combining the one hundred odd welfare societies in New York thus 
expressed a commonplace idea when he remarked that concern for "the 
temporal as well as the spiritual interests of the masses" must underlie 
their work. "The church of Christ/' wrote Bishop Simpson, 

"Arria S. Huntington, Memoir and Letters of Frederic Dan Huntington . . . (New 
York, 1906), pp. 240-42; Frederic D. Huntington, "Moral Principles of Church Building," 
The Church Monthly, H (July-December, 1861), p. 4; William R. Huntington, "The 
Mission Sunday School/' the same, HE (January-June, 1862), pp. 38-41; Mary L. Bissell, 
*'Work for Laywomen," the same, pp. 102-4, concerning district visitation; and Samuel H. 
Hilliard, "Lay Mission-Work," the same, pp. 137-41. 

" See William E. Boardman, 'Faith Work Under Dr. Cullis, in Boston (Boston, 1873); 
Arria Huntington, Huntington, p. 241; The Christian, V (1867), pp. 281-83, Indicating 
support from holiness Baptists; and Cullis's testimony to sanctification in S. Olin Garrison, 
ed., Forty Witnesses, Covering the Whole Range of Christian Experience (New York, 
1888), pp. 220-22. Henry R. Viets wrote the article in the D*AJB. 



must grope her way into the alleys and courts and purlieus of the city, and up 
the broken staircase, and into the bare room, and beside the loathsome sufferer. 
. . . For she was organized, commissioned, and equipped for the moral renova- 
tion o the world. 86 

Trae, men like Horace Bushnell and Francis Wayland held out for 
what President Herbert Hoover was later to call "rugged individualism." 
The stem old Calvinist recipe for poverty occasionally cropped up even 
in The Independent's columns. 1 But even the most orthodox of Old 
School men did not escape the tide of human sympathy. One of them 
declared In The "Princeton Review that relieving impoverishment was one of 
the three historic purposes of the church, along with preaching the gospel 
and maintaining order and purity among the faithful The ordination of 
deacons in the primitive Christian community was intended, he said, to 
give "dignity and sacredness" to the cause of the poor, so as to "win their 
hearts to him who is able and willing to supply all their spiritual wants." 
The American churches were risking an alienation of the lowest class as 
serious as that in Europe, this writer warned, unless they abandoned pew 
rents, gave up sophisticated sermons, restored the diaconate to its central 
place in church order, and provided it the means to supply the temporal 
needs of the unfortunate. 

From 1858 onwards, in fact, revivalists issued repeated warnings against 
the danger that the love of money would benumb social concern. In an 
address before Yale alumni in 1861 James M. Sturtevant, president of 
Illinois College, scorned wealthy merchants who had "thought it out of 
taste ... to be troubled about politics" while they let slavery fester in the 
land. George Barrell Cheever mocked the "worship of the Golden Calves 
of America/' and Gilbert Haven, foremost Methodist abolitionist, warned 

88 Quoted in New York City Mission and Tract Society, Walks About New York, p. 
120. See also, the same, Annual Report . . . 1859, pp. 14-15, 17; Samuel R. HaUiday, 
Winning Souls Sketches and Incidents During Forty Years of Pastoral Work (New York, 
1873), p. i; and C C. Goss, Charities of New York City (New York, ca. 1870), pp. I, 20, 
21 ff. Cf. the social emphasis in holiness Baptist circles in The Antioch Baptist Church, 
Third Annual Report (New York, 1862), pp. 7-9, and Seventh Annual Report (New York, 
1866), pp. 6-8, and The Christian, 1 (1863), pp. 31-32, 47-48, and II (1864), p. 120. 

* T Contrast The Independent, March 15 and 22, 1855, and the review of the resettle- 
ment program at the Five Points in the following issue, March 29, with quotations made 
earlier, p. 164. Cf. Cole, Northern Evangelists, pp. 169-70, 175-83, perhaps over-empha- 
sizing Bushnell and Wayland; and James W. Alexander, John Todd and others, The 
Man of Business, Considered in His Various Relations (New York, 1857), pp. 3-5, 
23, 30-31, 36-37, teaching divine ordination of social and economic Inequality, %&& a wage 
level determined By the law of supply and demand. 



Ms fellow clergymen that usury was as hard to preach against as slavery. 
"Some rich brother, who has waxed fat on these ill-gotten gains/* he said, 
"will denounce you as an intermeddler, while his conduct uncensured, and 
himself undisciplined, keeps scores from the church." 88 

In such a climate of opinion the Y.M.C.A. could not but thrive. 
Evangelical compassion flowing from the heart of American church life 
thrust it forward, first into rescue missions and then into the general 
welfare work which large city congregations had already adopted. The *T" 
institutionalized the aims which Edward N. Kirk had proposed in 1850 
for the Mount Vernon Association of Young Men, from which the parent 
unit in Boston developed. These were to help young men grow "in the 
love of God, in the faith of Christ, in brotherly love" and "in zeal for 
human welfare." 8e 

Perfectionist and revivalist sentiment even more completely dominated 
the United States Christian Commission's social work. William E. Board- 
man, the executive secretary, explained that only by reaching soldiers 
personally through deeds of healing and charity could the agents of the 
Commission win the chance to tell them "of Jesus, his love, his sacrifice, 
his readiness to pardon, his perfect righteousness all, all the sinner's own 
by simple faith." He believed that Christ had raised up in these last days 
a new apostleship, composed of "men full of faith and the Holy Ghost," 
who loved humanity enough to 'leave their houses and go without fee or 
reward to bear the great tidings of a Saviour to the lost/* John Wesley's 
preachers, Boardman declared, had carried the gospel to the British armies 
a hundred years before Florence Nightingale had gone to heal their bodies; 
now, for the first time, the two were combined. 40 

Small wonder that Methodist officials like Alfred Cookman and 
Bishops Edmund S. Janes and Matthew Simpson gave so much valuable 
aid to the Commission's program, or that pious women organized Ladies' 
Christian Commission units to raise its funds. The nineteenth-century 

88 '"Relation of tlie Church to tlie Poor," The Princeton Review, XXXIV (1862), 
612-13, 618, 623, 626, 631; Julian M. Sturtevant, The Lessons of Our National Conflict 
. . . (New Haven, 1861), p. 10; Gilbert Haven, National Sermons , . . (Boston, 1869), 
p. 387; see earlier p. 156. 

89 David O. Mears, Life of Edward Norn's Kirk D.D. (Boston, 1877), p. 219, and pp. 
79, 216-27, passim; Zwns Herald, Jan. 21 and March 31, 1852; Charles Howard Hopkins, 
History of the Y.M.C.A. . . . (New York, 1951), pp. 26-27, 45-47; "The United States 
Christian Commission," The Evangelical Quarterly Review, XVI (1865), pp. 264, 266-68; 
Christ in the Army: a Selection of Sketches of the Work of The U. S, Christian Com- 
mission (Philadelphia, 1865), pp. 17-18. 

* Christ in the Army, pp. 24-25, 27. 



quest for holiness was turned into avenues of service, instead of tie byways 
of mystic contemplation. "Entirely consecrated to service, and then filled 
with God," cried Cookman in his sermon on sanctification before the 
national anniversary service of the Y.M.C.A. in 1869. "A co-worker with 
omnipotence. I challenge the world to supply a more sublime ideal of 
character, of experience, of life." 41 

It is incorrect, of course, to suppose that liberal Christians and rational 
men who rejected religious sentiments were in all cases less interested in the 
plight of the poor. As in the antislavery agitation, Unitarians and Uni- 
versalists frequently exercised leadership and usually expounded humani- 
tarian theories in advance of their time. 42 Evangelicals themselves testified 
that "infidel" reformers had sometimes shamed the churches into action, 
though they insisted that the idea of charity was intrinsically Christian. 
As one English visitor complained, the fact that revivalists often made total 
abstinence from liquor "the very rock of salvation" alienated the two 
groups as much as did the liberal scorn of otherworldly notions. But the 
preponderance of wealth and numbers was on the side of the evangelicals. 
The power which earliest opposed the organized evils of urban society and 
stretched out hands of mercy to help the poor was sanctified compassion. 
Glowing hopes for the establishment of the kingdom of Christ on earth 
lighted its way. "Infidelity makes a great outcry about its philanthropy," 
growled the conservative New York Observer in 1855, "but religion does 
the work, 43 

Thus declined the ancient distinctions between piety and moralism, 
spiritual and social service. The prayer of all disciples, "Thy kingdom 
come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" took on new signifi- 
cance as the soul-winning impulse drove Christians into systematic efforts 
to relieve the miseries of the urban poor. Home mission, Sunday-school, 
tract, and temperance agents early felt the weight of organized evil in the 

" Quoted in Henry B. Ridgaway, The Life of the Rev. Alfred, Cookman . . . (New 
York, 1874), pp. 370-71. Of. William Warren Sweet, The Methodist Episcopal Church and 
the Civil War (Cincinnati, [1912]), pp. 149, 162, 163-65; Christ in the Army, pp. 40-46; 
Hopkins, Y.M.C.A., pp. 89-94, 96-98. See earlier; pp. 76-77. 

** See, for example, E. H. Chapin, Moral Aspects of City Life (New York, 1853), and 
the same author's Humanity in the City (New York, 1855), reviewed in The Independent, 
Jan. 26, 1854, and March 1, 1855; and L. P. Brockett and Mary C. Vaughan, Woman's 
Work in the Civil War . . (Rochester, N. Y., 1867), on the Sanitary Commission. 

43 The New York Observer, May, 1855, quoted in Anson Phelps Stokes, Church and 
State in the United States (New York, 1950), U, pp. 190-91. See, again, 'The Five Points 
House of Industry," loc. tit., pp. 210-12; and anon., America As I Found It, p. 7L 



festering slums. The flight of the churches from destitute neighborhoods 
alarmed them while Old World pioneers in Christian social service 
presented inspiring examples. The rolling tide of Catholic immigration 
which impelled some men toward nativism challenged earnest believers to 
gospel work. Individual churches soon joined the interdenominational 
societies in distributing food and clothing, finding employment, resettling 
children, and providing medical aid for the lowest classes. The revival of 
1858 was in many respects the harvest reaped from this gospel seed. It 
convinced churchmen everywhere that the story of the Good Samaritan 
was a parable for their times. 

Institutional work meanwhile began, we have also seen, with Phoebe 
Palmer's Five Points Mission and its offspring, The Five Points House of 
Industry. Though rudimentary settlement houses such as these remained 
a rarity, hundreds of city missions existed by 1860, most of them offering 
temporal ministries far greater than the bowl of stew and occasional 
night's lodging characteristic in such establishments today. The wartime 
social services of the United States Christian Commission and the Y.M.- 
C.A. stemmed directly from these roots and were grounded on the same 
compassion for "lost" men. A large corps of perfectionists flocked to their 
banners. By the year of Appomattox evangelicals of all persuasions even 
Princeton professors were attacking the abuses of wealth and acknowledg- 
ing that relief of the impoverished and oppressed was a primary task of 
the Christian church. 

"A charge to keep I have/* sang the assembled Methodist preachers in 
the great hymn which became their battle song, "a God to glorify, a never- 
dying soul to save, and fit it for the sky/* But the second stanza turned all 
its solemn weight on the side of social compassion: 

To serve the present age, 

My calling to fulfill; 
O may it all my powers engage 

To do my Master's will! 



Christian Liberty and Human Bondage. 
The Paradox of Slavery 

The American Civil War has held perennial fascination 
for students of our national history. No president has been the subject 
of more biographies than Abraham Lincoln, no social institution has 
provoked more fervid study than slavery. The military campaigns whose 
bloody events are conjured up with the words "Chancellorsville," "Gettys- 
burg," and "Lookout Mountain" have not lost their power to sadden or 

In myth and symbol as well as in fact, the epic story speaks to our 
deepest emotions. Its overtones of paradox and paranoia are reminiscent of 
Greek tragedy. Brothers strive, greed beds with altruism. Victors, save for 
Lincoln, seem shameful in triumph, and vanquished heroes cast their 
lengthening spell year by year on the popular mind. Whatever may be 
one's technical criticism of Carl Sandburg's life of the war president, even 
the most hardbitten historian senses how fitting it is that a poet should 
speak to break the silence of Appomattox. 

That these powerful emotions should have generated sound historical 
curiosity as well as mystic awe, and so promoted our real knowledge of 
events, was to be expected. A vast array of monographs and biographies 
are slowly making it possible for us to know a great deal about the causes 
and nature of the war for the Union and the persons and forces cast in 
leading roles upon its stage. 

At first, in the 1880's, most historians treated the war as an inevitable 
clash between the moral force of righteousness and the sin of slavery. 
In this view the abolitionist agitators were the heroes, seers of destiny 
who were able to bend history to their purposes because they were in 
harmony with Eternal Right. Among these, the Boston party of radical 
Unitarians, led by William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Theo- 
dore Parker, received the lion's share of credit, even though it was 
recognized that persons from other sections and from evangelical back- 



grounds, like James G. Birney, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Theodore 
Dwigfat Weld, played a part. After all, most good historical writing was 
still being done around Boston and by Unitarians at that. 

A generation later Edward Channing and Charles A. Beard penetrated 
beneath what they thought was the veneer of moral argument to uncover 
other bases for the sectional strife. Channing asserted that the emergence 
in the North and South of two distinct ways of life, involving differences 
in economic organization, social patterns, and religious and political ideals, 
made the war inevitable. To Beard, on the other hand, the real "irrepressi- 
ble conflict" was between two groups of rising capitalists the great 
planters and the new industrialists. Each sought to seize control of the 
national government as a means of securing a major share of the country's 
wealth. Both points of view fit well the temper of twentieth-century 
thought. They inspired so many brilliant studies of facets of the war's origin 
that scholars lost interest in the role of the abolitionists. 

When, therefore, in the early 1930's, Gilbert H. Barnes and Dwight L. 
Dumond published volumes which emphasized the role of evangelical 
zealots like Finney's convert Weld, the Quaker sisters Sarah and Angelina 
Grimke, and the Presbyterian brothers Arthur and Lewis Tappan, over 
that of Garrison's party, many historians showed only faint interest. These 
labors were soon to win greater recognition. For by 1940, James G. Randall 
in the North and Avery Craven, a Southerner by birth, were mounting 
an impressive attack upon the whole idea that the war was unavoidable. 
They declared, rather, that it was the work of a "blundering generation*' 
which was driven along by a motley crew of religious fanatics, slave- 
driving speculators, fire-eating orators and publicists, and politicians who 
clothed their ambitions in pious garb. The abolitionists became important 
again, simply because they were numbered among the screwballs. 1 

Until very recently, however, none of these interpretations has in- 
spired or seemed to require a thoroughgoing analysis of the work and 
preaching of the main body of "moderate" antislavery Christians in the 
North. 2 The first generation of historians accepted uncritically the strange 
libel of Garrison and Birney that their parties alone were the true friends 

1 Howard K. Beale, "What Historians Have Said About the Causes o the Civil War" 
in Theory and Practice in Historical Study: a Report of the Committee on Historiography 
(Social Science Research Council, Bulletin, No. 54), pp. 55-102, reviews all hut the most 
recent literature. 

2 Charles C. Cole, The Social Ideas of the Northern Evangelists, 1826-1860 CNew York, 
1854), pp. 192-220, contains a fine chapter on slavery. 



of the slave and the churches the bulwark of his oppressors. The libel 
became a legend in the Beard-Channing era, despite the fact that it had 
lost its significance for historical interpretation. Intellectuals of the early 
part of this century found great delight in pillorying religion. Now, as 
amended by Professors Barnes and Dumond, the story serves well the 
thesis that \var is something manufactured by madmen. 

Many thoughtful contemporaries took a different view. European 
visitors carefully explained to their countrymen why American Chris- 
tians opposed to slavery would have nothing to do with abolitionist parlies. 
By striking at the Bible and the Constitution, as Georges Fisch expressed 
it, the radicals had placed themselves "outside the great religious current 
that was carrying the nation on." Isabella Bishop told of attending a Gar- 
risonian convention in Boston in 1858 at which Wendell Phillips de- 
nounced both George Washington and Jesus Christ as traitors to humanity, 
the one for giving us the Constitution, the other, the New Testament. 
Among the twenty-three similar speeches she heard there were two in 
which Parker Pilsbury and a bloomered advocate of woman's rights de- 
clared themselves "bold enough to deny the creation of credulity and 
priestcraft named the Deity." In the view of such travelers, the decisive 
body of Northern antislavery sentiment lay in the hearts of the moderate 
Christians. Though cautious in their utterances and sometimes madden- 
ingly conservative in their actions, they at last threw their weight into 
the balance against human bondage. 8 

The din of controversy both retarded this event and obscured it from 
public view. We may first ask ourselves, therefore, what lay back of the 
noisy struggle among those who professed one common object, freedom 
for the slave? 

Abolitionisms House. Divided 

As is now well known, religious radicals of both Unitarian and evan- 
gelical persuasions co-operated to kindle the first blaze of antislavery 
feeling which swept over the nation. Charles G. Finney probably won 
as many converts to the cause as William Lloyd Garrison, even though 
he shunned the role of a political agitator for that of a winner of souls. 
Among these were Weld, Arthur Tappan, first president of the American 

8 Georges Fisch, Nine Months in ike United, States During the Crisis (London 1863), 
pp. 120-24; Isabella (Bird) Bishop, The Aspects of Religion in the United States . . . 
(London, 1859), pp. 81-92. Of. A. . de Gasparin, The Uprising of a Great People 
. . . (tr. Mary L. Booth; 4th ed., New York, 1861), pp. 90-91. 



Antislavery Society, and Joshua Leavitt, editor first of The Evangelist and 
then of The Emancipator. Revivalists like Edward Morris Kirk, Nathaniel 
S. S. Beman, and Jacob Knapp, together with hundreds of Methodist and 
New School pastors, lent spiritual support to the movement. 

Recognition of the prominence of such men should not, however, obscure 
their debt to Garrison's Liberator, a fact which they freely acknowledged. 
Orange Scott, a thoroughly orthodox and evangelistic Methodist presiding 
elder, actually won over a majority of the New England Conference to 
abolitionism in 1835 by sending them a three-month subscription to the 
magazine. Garrison, Scott noted, thoroughly exploded the dream of re- 
colonizing the Negroes in Africa, previously an important stumbling block. 
Thereafter, Unitarians spoke frequently against slavery in evangelical 
pulpits. 4 

There was nothing mysterious about this alliance. An uncompromising 
stand against slavery as a sin fitted alike the pattern of Methodist per- 
fectionism, New School revivalism, and the intensely ethical concerns of 
radical Quaker and Unitarian religion. Andrew Jackson's presidency wit- 
nessed an immense enlargement of the average man's interest in politics. 
For the deeply pious, for those awakened in the revivals of 1828-36, such 
participation required a moral platform. The abolition of slavery was the 
one most ready to hand. It was, moreover, easily identifiable with their 
religious traditions. Wesley had called the traffic in human beings the 
"sum of all villainies." Samuel Hopkins had fearlessly denounced those in 
his congregation at Newport who profited from it. The spiritual heirs of 
these two men were the holiness and revival preachers of the nineteenth 

By 1845, however, the unity of the movement had been completely 
shattered. Garrison had ousted the evangelicals from the American Anti- 
Slavery Society. The Methodist bishops had driven the most radical agitators 
from their fold, but could not prevent the wedge of controversy from 
splitting the denomination, North and South. Old School theologians 
had joined with proslavery Southerners to force the revivalistic synods 

* Lucius C. Matlack, The Life of Rev. Orange Scott . . . (New York, 1847), pp. 33-34; 
Matthew Simpson, edL, Cyclopedia of Methodism . . . (Philadelphia, 1878), p. 191. 

C., on the role of evangelicals generally and their relations with Garrison, Eugene 
P. Southali, "Arthur Tappan and the Antislavery Movement," Journal of Negro History, 
XV (1930), pp. 187, 191, 196; Gilbert H. Barnes, The Antislavery Impulse, 1830-1844 
(New York, 1933); and Gilbert H. Barnes and Dwight L. Dumond, eds., Letters of 
Theodore Dwight Weld, Angeline Grimhe Weld and Sarah Grimke, 1822-1844 fNew 
York, 1934). 



out of the Presbyterian church and to develop a biblical and theological 
defense of the South's peculiar institution. Meanwhile Congregationalism 
and New School Presbyterians both suffered from the charges of fanaticism 
raised against Finney's Oberlin College when the perfectionist revival 
broke out there. The former group, struggling hard in New England 
to ward off Garrison's bitter attacks upon the church, the Bible, and 
the ancient creeds, could scarcely avoid the conclusion that religious and 
social radicalism contained elements of real danger to the faith. 

Trouble between the evangelicals and the radical Unitarians began in 
1836 and 1837, when the sisters Grimy toured New England as agents 
of the antislavery society. By their example, if nothing more, they gave 
encouragement to the infant movement for woman's rights, about which 
proponents of abolition were by no means united. Garrison, with charac- 
teristic rashness, determined to force the society to accept women on a 
basis of equality with men. He was by this time moving rapidly toward 
a program of "universal reform" somewhat similar to the complete recon- 
struction of society for which Edward Beecher had called two years be- 
fore. Only in Garrison's case, Christianity was not to be an instrument but 
an object of attack. He would soon champion not only freedom for the 
slave and the legal equality of the sexes, but the destruction as well of the 
"sinful" governments of church and state which had permitted these evils 
to exist so long. 5 

When, therefore, the evangelicals protested this propaganda on behalf 
of woman's rights, The Liberator burst into flaming attacks upon the 
clergy and the churches. In a Fourth-of-July oration at Providence in 1837, 
the embattled editor announced 

that our doom as a nation is sealed; that the day of our probation has ended, 
and we are not saved. . . . The downfall of the republic seems inevitable. 
The corruptions of the Church, so-called, are obviously more deep and incurable 
than those of the state, and, therefore, the Church, in spite of every precaution, 
is first to be dashed to pieces. . . . The political dismemberment of our union is 
ultimately to follow.* 

Three months later Garrison printed a letter from James Boyle, a "per- 

8 Samuel J. May, Some Recollections of Owr Antislavery Conflict (Boston, 1869), pp. 
233-37, 239-40 is pro-Gairison. Of. Appeal of Clerical Abolitionists on Anti-Slavery 
Measures (Boston, 1838), and Massachusetts Abolition Society, The True History of the 
Late Division in the Anti-Slavery Societies . . . (Boston, 1841), pp. 142. 

* Quoted from The L&erator, VH (1837), p. 123, in Massachusetts Abolition Society, 
Second Annual Report . . . 1841 (Boston, 1841), p. 11. 



fectionist" of Newark, Ohio, who announced grandly, "My hope for the 
Millennium begins where Dr. Beecher's expires, viz., AT THE OVERTHROW 
OF THIS NATION. . . . God, by His Spirit, has moved me to nominate 
Jesus Christ for the Presidency, not only of the United States, but of the 
World." 7 

Here, so the Methodist, Baptist, and Congregational preachers in the 
antislavery society believed, was transcendentalist utopianism gone com- 
pletely daft. They first urged Garrison, as proprietor of The Liberator, to 
dissociate the magazine from its official connection with the society. They 
succeeded only in enraging him. When they proposed a second journal, 
cheaper in price and slanted to a more popular audience, he denounced 
them publicly as traitors to the cause of the slave, wicked plotters who 
wished by ousting him to destroy a movement they could no longer 
control. They replied in private remonstrance and, finally, in public print 
that Garrison was the real renegade. For he had determined to drive from 
the antislavery ranks all but the few who would adopt his platform of 
universal reform. 8 

Throughout 1838 Garrison waged as furious a campaign against the 
church and the ministry as against the slave traffic. His control of the 
official publication, together with the rather loose organization under 
which the society functioned, enabled him to oust his opponents at the 
annual meeting in 1839. The next year, with similar tactics, he seized 
control of the national convention in New York. Weld, Binaey, and Arthur 
Tappan who had been both New York state and national president 
from the beginning shepherded the evangelicals into the American and 
Foreign Antislavery Society, Boston divines had already set in motion the 
separate Massachusetts unit 

But the tumult and strife did irreparable harm to the cause, especially 
in New England. The Massachusetts Abolition Society, never in a very 
healthy condition, shouted itself hoarse in a vain attempt to drown out the 
lion of The Liberator. In the churches the counsels of conservative men 
prevailed of saintly leaders whose goals were mystic and other-worldly 
and of editors and ecclesiastical officials anxious for the peace and 
prosperity of their flocks. The Christian witness against the century's 
most glaring evil died away. Deeply discouraged, Weld, Bimey and 

7 IKi, P . 12. 

*IM., pp. 13-16, 29-32. C. May, Recollections, pp, 241-45; and Ay^ed of Clerical 



scores of evangelicals began, like Garrison, to denounce the sins of the 
Levites as much as the Simon Legrees. Biniey declared in 1850 that the 
churches had been for a decade "in the rear of society." 'With the excep- 
tion of small denominations, which I greatly honor for their conduct in 
this particular/' he wrote, "the church cannot disappoint me much in its 
anti-slavery measures, because I look for so little hardly anything, indeed, 
from it." s 

The tense battle which was being fought out during the same year 
in the Methodist conferences in New England and upper New Yorl, 
testing whether the bishops could restrain the moral sentiment of their 
church, illustrates this crisis of Christian antislavery. In 1835 Bishop 
Elijah Hedding transferred Orange Scott from the Springfield to the 
Providence district. The next year he removed him from the presiding 
eldership altogether, in retaliation, so Scott alleged, for the latter's skill- 
ful leadership of the antislavery delegation at the General Conference in 
Cincinnati. Scott accepted appointment as pastor in Lowell, Massachusetts. 
There he set out with ids colleague, Joel Parker, "to secure the outpouring 
of the Holy Spirit among the people" and so "to bring all over to the cause 
of Christ, and the bleeding slave." They were so successful that within a 
year the city became a swarming ground for Methodist abolitionists. 10 

Scott thereupon requested inactive status in the conference to become a 
full-time agent of the American Antislavery Society. His particular spe- 
ciality was to arrange lectures at the seat of Methodist conferences, much to 
the disgust of Bishop Hedding. The latter imported Wilbur Fisk, Nathan 
Bangs, and other prominent New York City clergymen to present com- 
peting addresses against abolitionism, allowing them the use of the con- 
ference floor. Perversely, as even Methodist preachers are wont to act 
under such circumstances, the crowds followed Scott When Hedding 
himself preferred charges against the reformer in 1838, the conference 
by a resounding vote found him not guilty. Before long, three hundred 
pastors in Eastern districts professed loyalty to the cause, and Zioris Herald, 

9 James G. Birney to Hie Quistian Antislavery Society, Apr. 2, 1850, quoted in Dwight 
L. Dnmond, ed., Letters of James GiUespie Bimey, 1831-1857 (New York, 1938), II, 
1134; c. James G. Biiney, The American Churches, the "Bulwarks of American Slavery 
(2nd ed., Newburyport, Mass., 1842). See generally, Mass. Abolition Society, Second 
Annual Report, pp. 33-54; Alice F. Tyler, freedom's Ferment . . . (Minneapolis, 1944), 
pp. 490-97; and David O. Mears, Life of Edward Norris Kirk, DD. (Boston, 1877), 
pp. 247-48. 

10 Madack, Orange Scott, pp. 33-35, 38, gives Scott's own account. 



the Boston Methodist weekly, had Become its champion. Meanwhile, Scott 
had been equally successful in evangelizing western New York. 11 

By 1840, however, public reaction from Garrison's strange course en- 
abled the bishops to bring a moderate party to power and thus to press 
Scott and his followers toward insubordination to Methodist discipline. 
The new editor of Zions Herald announced that its columns would be 
open to all expressions of opinion which were free from "personal 
wrangling/* But he pledged himself to the principle that the church 
could be "evangelically antislavery" and still allow masters the privileges 
of membership. Despairing of further success, Scott, LaRoy Sunderland, 
and Luther Lee in 1843 led several thousand New York laymen and their 
pastors into the Wesleyan Methodist Church, renouncing episcopacy as 
heartily as compromise with slaveholders. In the long run this action 
weakened abolition in the mother church by identifying it with schism. 
The New Englanders, however, by threatening to join the Wesleyans, 
were able to force the North-South division at the General Conference 
the following year. 12 

Similar but even more serious troubles beset the antislavery party in 
the Presbyterian Church. If the conclusions which C. Bruce Staiger 
presented in The Mississippi Valley Historical Review seven years ago 
are correct, the expulsion of the New School from the General As- 
sembly in 1837 resulted from a covert "deal" between conservative 
Scotch-Irish churchmen who opposed the revivalists' doctrinal heresies 
and Southerners who feared their antislavery principles. The latter had 
been until 1836 apathetic toward the theological issues which Finney, 
Albert Barnes, Lyman Beecher, and George Duffield had raised when 
they espoused free will and natural ability. Near the close of the General 
Assembly that year, however, delegates from the conservative New York, 
New Jersey, and Philadelphia presbyteries made known their willingness 
to abandon the church's historic stand against slavery if Southerners would 
help them oust the rapidly growing "Puritan'* party. That zeal for 
orthodoxy should have swept slave-state synods the following year is scant 
surprise. The "Exscinding Act" of 1837 rid the church by a single stroke 
of both abolitionism and Arminianism, so Staiger concluded, and under 

11 Ibid., pp. 39-40, 122-25, 130-39; AM Stevens, Life and Times of Nathan Bangs, 
D.D. (New York, 1863), pp. 313-23. 

18 Stevens, Nathan Bangs, pp. 318-23; Charles Baumer Swaney, Episcopal Methodism 
and Slavery; -with Sidelights on Ecclesiastical Politics (Boston, 1926), pp. 117-37; 
Whitney Rogers Cross, The Burned-Over District . . (Ithaca, N. Y., 1950), pp. 263-67. 



circumstances which left Princeton theologians free to explain piously 
that it was all done to preserve the faith of the fathers. Scarcely two years 
had passed before news of the perfectionist awakening at Oberlin gave 
dramatic point to the Old School charge that revivalism, fanaticism, and 
reform went hand in hand. 18 

Meanwhile, Princeton professors joined Southern preachers in working 
out a maddeningly ingenious defense of slavery which, disseminated 
through the columns of The New York Observer, cut further ground from 
beneath its evangelical opponents. God had chosen some to be masters 
and some to be servants, the argument ran, in much the same way as 
certain men were elected to be saved and others to be damned* The Scrip- 
tures revealed this divine sanction of slavery the Old Testament by 
precept and example and the New Testament by its silence. The apostles 
had not thought the church "a moral institute of universal good" but a 
channel of personal salvation, a doorway to everlasting life. 14 

Such reasoning was calculated to cut the heart out of revivalist and 
perfectionist incitement to reform, appealing as it did to ancient creed, 
sacred book, and mystic aspiration. It was the antithesis to the moral 
optimism which, through revival experience and millennial vision, had 
penetrated great segments of the Northern church. On the strength of it 
Princeton deserted the theocratic and humanitarian tradition which had 
flourished there until the !83G's and turned rapidly back toward ultra- 
Calvinism. 15 As late as 1862 the pastor of the largest Old School church 
in New York City warned preachers of the gospel to stick to the old-time 
religion. "Christ and Him crucified/' he said, was their only proper sub- 
ject The public appetite for sermons on 'literary and ethical questions, 
questions of social and moral reform," and "other matters of a curious and 

**C. Bruce Staiger, "Abolitionism and the Presbyterian Schism of 1837-1 838," The 
Mississippi Vattey Historical Review, XXVI (1949-50), pp. 395, 399-400, 404-6, 408-9, 
covers only events leading up to the division; cf . E. H. Gillett, History of the Presbyterian 
Church . . . (Philadelphia, 1864), H, pp. 547-52. See earlier, pp. 26-28. 

" James H. Thornwell, Report on the Subject of Slavery. Presented to the Synod of 
South Carolina. . . . (Columbia, S. C, 1852), is summarized in William S. Jenldns, Pro- 
davery Thought in the Old South (Chapel Hill, N. C., 1935), pp. 207-9; cf. in the 
latter, pp. 215-16. 

I5 Fisch, Nine Months, pp. 4547; J. H. Grand Pierre, A Parisian Pastor's Glance at 
America (Boston, 1854), pp. 128, 129. Cf. Gfflett, Presbyterian Church, H, p. 554. 

Jenkins, Proslavery Thought, pp. 207-18, and, generally, pp. 200-241, and Adelaide 
Avery Lyons, Religious Defense of Slavery in the North," Trinity College Historical 
Society, Historical Papers, series Xffl (Durham, N. C, 1919), review a mass of material 
without much reference to the fact that most of it was Old School in origin. 



novel character" would serve only to corrupt the sacred calling of the 
pulpit. 16 

Never did venerable religious doctrine fit so well the interests of the 
classes who now came to hear it preached. In the Ohio Valley, where 
free farmers were bound to the slave states by numerous ties of Mnship 
and commerce, as well as among the mercantile classes of New York, 
Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Chicago, the principles of Old School Presby- 
terianism came to seem the apex of religion. The denomination increased 
its membership from 126,000 to 292,000 in twenty years. When, in the 
middle fifties, antislavery members of its Midwestern synods became suf- 
ficiently numerous to found a seminary which they hoped would be a 
counterweight to Princeton, Nathan L. Rice then editor of The St. Louis 
Presbyterian canvassed the presbyteries against it. With Cyrus Mc- 
Cormick's timely financial help Rice seized the institution in the name of 
the General Assembly, 17 In the South, meanwhile, the mood of orthodoxy 
became an obsession. 'We have got to hating everything with the prefix 
of free/' cried one black-belt editor; "free farms, free labor, free society, 
free will, free thinking, free children, and free schools all belonging to 
the same brand of damnable isms/' 18 

Thus from the day that Garrison seized control of the American Anti- 
slavery Society, the evangelicals, as one of them put it, were "between the 
upper and the nether millstones of a pro-slavery Christianity, and an anti- 
Christian abolitionism." 10 The one party associated freedom with infidelity 
and championed revolution against church and state. The other identified 
both Holy Writ and ancient creed with oppression. Had not morality been 
larger in human hearts than movements to support it and liberty a braver 
force than those who sang of it at Fourth-of-July celebrations, the slave 
might yet have languished in his bonds, 

18 Nathan L. Rice, The Pulpit: Its Relation to Our National Crisis . . . (New York, 
1862), pp. 10-11, 22; Jenkins, Proslavery Thought, pp. 200-7, 218-24. See also, Alex- 
ander McCaine, Slavery Defended from Scripture, Against the Attacks of the Abolitionists, 
in a Speech "Delivered Before the General Conference of the Methodist Protestant 
Church . . . (Baltimore, 1842). 

17 Thomas E. Thomas, Correspondence . . . Mainly Relating to the Anti-Slavery 
Conflict in Ohio, Especially in the Presbyterian Church (Dayton, Ohio, 1909), pp. 92-99. 
Cf. Gillett, Presbyterian Church, n, pp. 549, 568-69. On McCormick Seminary, see 
Thomas Gary Johnson, The Life and Letters of Benjamin Morgan Palmer (Richmond, 
1906), p. 192 and passim; and William E. Dodd, "The Fight for the Northwest," The 
American Historical Review, XVI (1910-11), pp. 781-82. 

18 Quoted in Ahel Stevens, "Slavery The Times," The Methodist Quarterly Review, 
XXXIX (1857), p. 273. 

" Anon., 'The Vital Forces of the Age,' 1 The Christian Review, XXVI (1861), p. 566. 



The Inner Dilemmas of Evangelical Antislavery 
Within the heart of spiritual Protestantism itself, however, lay the con- 
tradictory ideals, and in its internal organization the opposing interests 
which are principally to blame for its weakness in the slavery fight. These 
dilemmas must be stated and illustrated here before we can appreciate 
fully the achievement of those revivalists and perfectionists who trans- 
cended them. Two involved political questions and another two their 
ecclesiastical equivalents. A final one raised a purely religious issue. They 
are as follows: 

(a) Whether churchmen might any more than politicians jeopardize 
the unity of the nation in pursuit of freedom for the slave. (I?) At what 
point the solidarity of national religious and benevolent societies became 
less important than a clear witness against human bondage, (c) Whether 
the proper role of the churches in a democratic society was to regulate 
individual conduct or to impose Christian principles upon social and legal 
institutions, (d) Whether in disciplining individual conduct the central 
or the local governing bodies of the sects should act, and by what proce- 
dures. And, (g), whether Christians might do violence for loving ends. 

Count Agenor de Gasparin concluded in 1861 that proslavery com- 
promises had flourished in America chiefly among those who were "de- 
sirous, above every thing, of avoiding both the dismemberment of the 
United States, and that of the churches." Disunion in either case jeopar- 
dized what to the nineteenth century were religious values. Most evan- 
gelical clergymen believed that the nation's chief mission was to cradle 
a faith which should conquer the world. Its unity seemed to them as price- 
less a treasure as the churchly bonds through which they hoped that 
Americans themselves might be fully Christianized. Thus, when speaking 
of slavery in 1848, a Baptist propagandist for home missions cried, "When 
shall this stumbling-block in the way of the world's evangelization be re- 
moved?" But in the next breath he declared, "If this nation shall make 
shipwreck on the rocks of disunion, . . . who, who will be held responsible 
but American Christians, holding, as they do, the balance of moral and 
political power?" God had placed in their charge not only the civil and spir- 
itual destinies of this country, he said, but "the master work of evangelizing 
Foreign Nations" as well 20 

Gasparin, Uprising, p. 75; James L. BatcLdder, The United States, the West, and 
the State of Ohio, as Missionary Fields (Cincinnati, 1848), pp. 20, 22, 30-31. Cf. Jesse 
T. Peck, The History of the Great Republic, Considered from & Christian Standpoint 



Prominent statesmen helped to spread this notion. Henry Clay wrote of 
the division of the Methodist Episcopal Church: "Scarcely any public 
occurrence has happened for a long time that gave me so much real 
concern and pain." Such a separation would not necessarily produce a 
dissolution of the political union, Clay said, but the example would be 
fraught with great danger. John C. Calhoun underscored the point 
from another angle in the debates over the compromise of 1850. 21 

Whether such a danger actually existed is less important here than the 
fact that many churchmen who were sincerely opposed to slavery believed 
it did. According to Abel Stevens, this was true of the Methodist bishops 
and their chief spokesman Nathan Bangs during the years prior to the 
rupture of 1844. Bangs warned New England audiences that their 
denomination was "the chief religious and, in a sense, the chief social 
tie between the Northern and Southern states." As late as 1857 Stevens, 
who had succeeded Bangs as defender of the moderate position in the 
church, ridiculed the "abstractionists" who thought good men should ren- 
der a verdict on social issues independently of results. Consequences, he 
insisted, are the first criterion by which duty is established. Christian 
reformers, prone to weigh issues on a moral scale alone, ought to support 
compensated emancipation, since it was the only program likely to bring 
economic as well as moral force to bear against the evil. Typical, also, was 
the antislavery Baptist editor who berated Theodore Parker for smashing 
"with a huge battering ram against all the bulwarks of society," when he 
neither accepted the responsibility nor displayed the genius to rebuild 
what he so eagerly destroyed. 22 

Looking backward in 1863, Gilbert Haven perhaps the most respected 
Methodist abolitionist explained in conciliatory tones the significance of 
this danger of disunion. The abolitionists, he admitted, though sound 
on the rights of man, had been unmindful of the necessity of the union to 
attain and preserve those rights. While one party cried, "Union at any 
cost. Down with the abolitionists who are destroying it," the other with 
equal fervor answered, 'The Rights of every man at any cost. Down with 
the Union, if it stands in the way of liberty ." The shock of arms, Haven 

(New York, 1868), p. 570; and "Slavery and the War," The Watchman and Reflector, 
Jan. 1, 1863, for comments in agreement with the one quoted from Gasparin. 

81 Cky is quoted in James M. Buckley, Constitutional and Parliamentary History of 
the Methodist Episcopal Church (New York, 1912), p. 475. 

" Stevens, Nathan Bangs, p. 316; Stevens, "Slavery The Times/' 2oc. dt., pp. 260. 
445, 448, 454; The Watchman and Reflector, March 16, 1854, p. 2. 



observed, had united these two factions. The one now saw that union 
meant universal liberty; and the other, that "abolitionism meant union, 
and only under its banner could the nation be preserved/' Equal rights were 
seen to mean every man's rights. Democracy was identical with abolition- 
ism. 28 

A parallel fear for the unity of national religious organizations lay 
athwart any antislavery path which die churches or benevolent societies 
might choose. Here, certainly, the danger was real, not imaginary. Nor 
did it exist simply because proslavery sentiments flourished among mem- 
bers residing in the South. The religious attack declared slavery a sin and 
proposed to disfellowship all whom it had contaminated. Such a plat- 
form, could not fail to alienate thousands who regarded themselves or 
others as sincerely opposed to the institution but caught by circumstances 
in the temporary obligation to maintain it. 

For this reason, only sects confined to the northernmost portions of 
free territory Congregationalists, Unitarians, Universalists, and smaller 
groups like the Freewill Baptists and Wesleyan Methodists could take a 
stand without offending major sections of their membership. Since the 
larger of these had no effective instruments of central government, their 
numerous local pronouncements on slavery gained scant notice and the 
diverse opinions which they did shelter provoked no constitutional crisis. 
Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, and New School Presbyterians 
|pbored under opposite conditions, as did the interdenominational societies 
Hie the Evangelical Alliance, the Y.M.C.A., and the American Tract So- 

Though the Baptists were national in scope, they escaped much 
turmoil both before and after the establishment of sectional missionary 
boards by their stout insistence upon congregational order. "One of the 
brethren" of the Philadelphia Association protested in 1857 a Boston edi- 
tor's inference that their group had not denounced slavery. Indeed they 
had, he insisted, and quoted resolutions of 1789 and 1805 to prove it! But, 
he added, 'The churches of the body select their own ways to seek the 
removal of an evil, the existence of which, it is believed, they unanimously 
deplore/ 124 

The Methodists, by contrast, had developed the most tightly tnit or- 

83 Gilbert Haven, National Sermons: Sermons, Speeches and Letters on Slavery and Its 
War . . . (Boston, 1869), p. 383. 

s * The Watchman and Reflector, Oct. 29, 1857, p. I. On the CongregationaJists, see 
Mass. Abolition Society, Second Amwd Beport, pp. 4346. 



ganization in the country. They were accustomed to speaking with a united 
voice. But the fear of schism bridled the tongue of the General Conference 
at every stage of the controversy. When, despite all the bishops could do, 
the church divided in 1844, feverish backstage compromises saved for the 
North the '^border" conferences in Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri. 
From that time the cornerstone of the Northern bishops* policy was to 
keep them in. 25 

Their prescription was silence. Supporters of this course argued that 
the church could be antislavery without saying so. 'What am I in virtue 
of being a Methodist?" asked Charles Adams of the editor of Zions 
Herald in 1852. "I reply that I am an extirpationist ... I am the cleanest- 
sweeping the most pertinacious net dragging all-devouring abolition- 
ist under heaven." The General Conference was no more obligated to 
issue another statement against slavery, Adams said, than against "theft, 
adultery, bigamy, murder, or any ... of the other vices and crimes tin- 
separated and inseparable from the horrible slavery of this country." He 
concluded that those who criticized the church at this point were giving 
it an underserved reputation for conniving with the evil, exactly as Orange 
Scott's Wesleyan Methodists had done ten years before. 26 

A preacher from rural New England fired back that the people had 
every right to expect a statement on slavery from the General Conference, 
if nothing more than to disallow the charge of compromise. The tragedy 
was, he said, that the membership of that assembly was more conservative 
in temper than the church as a whole. Safe, moderate men always stood 
the best chance of election as delegates, men who loved more than their 
duty "the honor of a seat in so dignified a body rich breakfasts, sump- 
tuous dinners, exhilarating teas, good smokes in summer-houses or shady 
bowers, downy beds, [and] seeing the lions and elephants." Pitted against 
these weaklings, he noted, were veteran delegates from the border confer- 
ences, bent on silencing public argument at any cost. 27 

Despite such mutterings the policy of silence prevailed. The pastoral ad- 

85 George Prentice, Wilbur Rsfc (Boston, 1890), pp. 218-19; Stevens, Nathan Bangs, pp. 
317-20; Swaney, Episcopal Methodism and Slavery, pp. 174-88, 219-31; Robert D. dark, 
Life of Matthew Simpson (New York, 1956), pp. 212-14. 

ae Zion's Herald, Sept. 15, 1852, p. % Sept. 22, 1852, p. 2; cf. issues for July 28, 1852, 
p. 1, and Aug. 11, 1852, p. 2. 

87 Zion's Herald, Oct. 6, 1852, p. 2; cf. tKe letter from a PlainfieH, Vt., reader, OcL 13, 
1852, p. 4. 



dress issued by the General Conference in 1856 insisted that the debates 
that year "brought out fully the fact, that none of the members ... en- 
tertained pro-slavery sentiments" and that "little or no mercenary slave- 
holding" existed in the church. "The effect of such action upon the interests 
of the border conferences," the address continued, "probably alone pre- 
vented a constitutional majority from voting to recommend a change of our 
General Rules on the subject/' A year later Abel Stevens wrote that these 
Southern districts were "the very battlefield of the question" and the 
only ones in which the church had "direct access to the slave." To break 
with them would not help the Negro. The schism of 1844 had proved that 
such a course would only insulate his masters from contact with the 
Northern conscience. Stevens urged instead that the home mission program 
be expanded to provide additional conferences to sustain antislavery Meth- 
odists in the South. 28 

The reminder is appropriate, however, that Abel Stevens, like most of 
the bishops, key editors, and missionary, publishing, and Sabbath-school 
executives of the denomination, lived in New York City where "safe" 
opinions stemmed from more than ecclesiastical concerns. The cotton trade 
siphoned off much of the South's wealth to Park Avenue millionaires. For 
them, peace was more profitable than principle. Methodist ministers, to 
be sure, had few such persons in their congregations. But the atmosphere of 
<ti)e national metropolis was friendly to the voice of moderation. Even in 
'I860 the delegation which represented the city at the General Conference 
was content to see the resolution lost which forbade mercenary slave- 
holding, so long as that body denounced the institution itself as immoral 29 

New England Methodists and those from upstate New York took a dim 
view of "border-conference politics." A Providence, Rhode Island, minister 
wrote in 1857, on his return from a tour of Kentucky and Maryland, that 
societies which the missionary board supported as "vanguards of liberty" 
were, in fact, filled with proslavery members who denied to all comers 
that theirs was an antislavery church. Even clergymen had houses full of 
slaves the titles often being held by their fathers-in-law! To one cynical 
observer the difference between the Northern and Southern Methodists 

**Abel Stevens, "American Slavery Its Progress and Prospects," The Methodist Re- 
view, XXXIX (1857), pp. 461-63. See earlier, p. 131. 

SB Daniel Cmxy, Life-Story of Davis Wasgatt Clark, D.D., Bi$ho$ of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church (New York, 1874), pp. 167-74. CL generally Philip S. Foner, business 
and Slwery (Chapel Hill, N. O, 1941), pp. 168, 318-21. 



was not one of principle but of degree retail versus wholesale. Southern 
editors, naturally, missed no chance to advertise this view. 30 

The interdenominational benevolent societies were in similar straits. 
In 1 846 Stephen Olin wrote his friend Abel Stevens from London, where 
he was attending the initial meeting of the Evangelical Alliance, that if he 
knew his own heart, he "would go as far as anybody to counterwork the 
detestable system*' of slavery. He would "gladly sacrifice the Evangelical 
Alliance, and a thousand alliances, for its removal." But, Olin added, "I 
am frank to say that I do not see how this great object can be forwarded 
at all by attempting to complicate our plans for Christian union \vith it." 
When the conference yielded to such sentiments, a representative of the 
American and Foreign Antislavery Society cried in anguish that this was 
the same course which had muzzled the voice of reform in America: 
Churchmen chose brotherly love toward one another in preference to 
charity for the Negro. 31 

A similar compromise prevailed when the Y.M.C.A. launched first a 
national then an international organization in 1854 and 1855. Abel Stevens, 
spokesman for the American delegation at Paris in 1855, persuaded that 
assembly to adopt a constitution forbidding pronouncements on the sub- 
ject. His plea was that such a course would help to convince the anti- 
slavery associations in America that they must abandon hope for free 
discussion here! 32 

With like motives the Executive Committee of the American Tract 
Society for years excluded all mention of slavery in its publications, in a 
hypocritically literal interpretation of the rule that its tracts must be 
"calculated to receive the approbation of all evangelical Christians/' In the 
early 'fifties several Congregational Associations joined with The Independ- 
ent in a friendly but unsuccessful effort to get this policy reversed. In 
1856 the Directors appointed an investigating committee, composed of a 
dozen distinguished churchmen. George H. Stuart, Mark Hopkins, Francis 

80 See letters to the editor in Zion's Herald, Jan. 21, 1852, p. 4, and March 3, 1852, p. 
2; George Prentice, The Life of Gilbert Haven . . . (New York, 1883), pp. 231-33, 238-39; 
Charles K. Whipple, The Methodist Church and Slavery (New York, 1859), pp. 13-15, 19, 

81 Stephen Olin, London, 1846, to Abel Stevens, in Julia M. Olin, ed., The Life and 
Letters of Stephen Olin (New York, 1853), II, 318-19; American and Foreign Anti- 
Slavery Society, Remonstrance Against the Course Pursued "by the Evangelical Alliance on 
the Subject of American Slavery (New York, 1847), pp. 1-9. 

11 Charles Howard Hopkins, History of the Y.M.CLA (New York, 1951), pp. 60, 

64, 77, 80. 



Wayland, Albert Barnes, and S. S. Sctimucker were in the group. Their 
unanimous recommendation, decided upon in only one meeting, was that 
the society had every right and duty to publish against the evils of slavery, 
as distinct from the institution itself, or the mode of its abolition, or the 
question of communion with slaveholders. But the publishing committee 
professed themselves unable to find a manuscript which even on this 
point would meet the approval of all Christians! The stalemate continued 
until 1858, when a large number of the directors withdrew. Several new 
societies were formed, and the Massachusetts unit began publishing anti- 
slavery materials on its own. 33 

James Russell Lowell's article in The Atlantic Monthly, describing and 
deploring these events, brought all the issues into focus. If the founders 
of the Tract Society, he wrote, could have foreseen that their successors 

would hold their peace about the body of Cuffee dancing to the music of the 
cart whip, provided only they could save the soul of Sarnbo alive By presenting 
him a pamphlet, which he could not read, on the depravity of the double-shuffle, 

. . . they would have shmnk in horror. 

Lowell went on to decry in bitter terms a Christianity which was shocked 
"at a dance or a Sunday-drive, while it was blandly silent about the separa- 
tion of families, ... the selling fof] Christian girls for Christian harems" 
iod all the "thousand honors" of that iniquitous institution. And he laid 
fiis finger on one especially tender spot. The benevolent societies of the 
aation, like many of the denominations, maintained their headquarters in 
Mew York City, where the cotton trade was king. There most easily pre- 
vailed the counsels of the Christian capitalists, whose growing wealth had 
lumbed their youthful passions for reform. 34 

A third major dilemma of evangelical abolitionism sprang from the 
argument that the only political role proper to the churches in a democratic 
state was the regulation of private conduct. They must not seek by or- 
ganized action to impose Christian principles upon laws and institutions. 
Interestingly, at this point the clergymen who withdrew from the Massa- 
chusetts Antislavery Society had parted company with Garrison. "The 

** The Independent, Jan. 28, 1858, p. 4; c. editorials in the issues for Sept. 20 and 
Nov. 22, 1855. 

84 James Russell Lowell, "The American Tract Society/* The Atlantic Monthly, H 
Q857-58), pp. 246-51. Cf. Joshua Leavitt, N. Y., January 23 and April 10, 1855, to 
James G. Birney, quoted in Dumond, ed., Letters of J. G. Bimey, E, 1168-69, 1171-73, 
revealing the domestication of a reformer. 



duty of acting politically was the cornerstone of our society," they insisted, 
and the editor of The Liberator, by making war on government and parties, 
had renounced it. They resolved to carry on the public campaign to elimi- 
nate the institution from the nation and to support as well measures which 
would exclude slaveholders from the church. 35 

Within the denominations, however, most debates raged around the 
issue of disciplining members. American ecclesiastics took seriously the 
separated condition of state and church and, as we have seen, heartily 
supported the "voluntary system/' They were wary of partisan alignments. 
Wilbur Fisk warned that Methodism had been evangelically powerful 
because she had remained politically neutral. Albert Barnes insisted for 
twenty years that if the churches would eliminate slaveholders from their 
own number, the evil would disappear from society as well. And he wished 
to exhaust every alternative of propaganda and appeal calculated to awaken 
their consciences before forcibly excluding them. 36 

By contrast, many Methodists who professed loathing for the national 
plague argued that to disfellowship masters would succeed only in removing 
from the influence of the gospel the very men who needed it most. More- 
over, as John McClintock, editor of The Methodist Review, pointed out in 
1854, to purify the church alone would not sanctify the nation. The great 
work to be done, he wrote, was to regenerate the sentiment of the com- 
munity; "not to curse and malign individual slaveholders, but to break up 
the false public morality in which the system finds its main support." 31 
The danger in such advice was that moral conviction in the pulpit should 
yield to the self-interest which was allowed to flourish in the pew. The 
ancient evangelical practice was to fence sinners out. The terrible irony of 
the action of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
South, which in 1857 expunged from the discipline the rale forbidding the 
buying and selling of human beings, but maintained in all their vigor 
those affecting dress, dancing, card-playing, and attendance at the theater, 
was not lost upon the radical abolitionists. 38 

Whenever the churches dared attempt to regulate the relation of their 

** Mass. Abolition Society, Second Annual Report, p. 47. 

'* Prentice, Wilbur Fisfe, pp. 211-12; Albeit Barnes, The Church and Slavery (2nd. L, 
Philadelphia, 1857;, pp. 150-51, 164-65. 

87 John McClintock, "Stephen Olin," The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXXVI (1854), 
pp. 31-33. 

88 Charles K. Whipple, The Meitiodist Church and Slavery (New York, 1859), pp. 



members to slavery, however, convincing protests arose, even in the most 
episcopally governed bodies, that the separate divisions dioceses, synods, 
presbyteries, annual conferences, and associations ought more properly 
to handle the question- Many denominations had developed, either by 
chance or design, a framework of polity similar to that of the nation. Re- 
ligious "states rights" grew up naturally in the shadow of the political 
concept which bore that name. 

And whether general or local governing units pondered action, in- 
numerable alternative procedures offered themselves each with its sepa- 
rate set of problems. Were just ministers, or all communicants, or simply 
bishops, to be forbidden to hold slaves? (Constitutionally, Methodism was 
an organization of clergymen, above the congregational level.) Was any 
distinction to be made between mercenary and paternalistic slaveholding? 
If not excluding them, should the church discipline masters for unchristian 
conduct of their responsibilities, and, if so, how? Might enslaved church 
members testify in such cases, when in the civil courts it was forbidden? 
Were those who supported abolitionist parties or served on the Under- 
ground Railroad, thus contributing to the subversion of the laws of the 
land, to be condoned, or punished? 

The fate of a Troy, New York, Methodist Episcopal Conference resolu- 
tion, which in 1854 proposed the exclusion of all slaveholders, is instruc- 
tive. Unquestionably antislavery conferences like the Oneida, East Maine, 
and Erie joined those in border territory in rejecting it on the grounds that 
one might accept or retain ownership of a Negro as a charitable act. An 
Iowa Conference committee four years later objected to a similar memorial 
on the plea that it would prevent good Methodists from buying slaves in 
order to free them! 39 

The tangled story of New School Presbyterian action and inaction 
illustrates all these problems of procedure. The fact that certain presby- 
teries in East Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and South Carolina adhered 
to the denomination on doctrinal grounds, at the time of the division from 
the Old School, complicated matters. Although the General Assembly 
courageously refused year after year to choke off discussion, it voted as 
early as 1839 to refer all memorials back to the synods and presbyteries "to 
take such order thereon as in their judgment will be the most judicious and 
adapted to remove the evil." Four years later, three days of argument re- 

80 Zion's Herald, Nov. 22, 1854, p. 186; Minutes of the Iowa Conference of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church . . (1858), pp. 14-16. 



suited In a stalemate, aptly summed up in the resolution adopted at its 

Whereas, there is in this Assembly great diversity of opinion as to the proper 
and best mode of action on the subject of slavery; and whereas, in such drctira- 
stances, any expression of sentiment would carry with it but little weight, as it 
would be passed by a small majority and must operate to produce alienation and 
division, .... Resolved, that the Assembly do not think it for the edification of 
the church, for their body to take any action on the subject 40 

In 1845 the Assembly declared, by a vote of ninety-two to twenty-nine, 
that although "the system of slavery, as it exists in the United States, . . . 
is intrinsically an unrighteous and oppressive system," the delegates would 
not attempt "to determine the degree of moral turpitude on the part of 
individuals involved in it." Rather, they exhorted their "beloved brethren" 
to "remove it from them as speedily as possible, by all appropriate means" 
and at the same time to avoid "all divisive and schismatical measures 
tending to destroy the unity and disturb the peace of the church." 41 

Debates in the succeeding meetings of the group reflected, the reawaken- 
ing of the Northern conscience in the years 1848-54. They turned on the 
question whether the Assembly should vote to encourage and, later, to 
require presbyteries to bar masters from communion. A committee was 
appointed in 1855 to determine whether the national body might con- 
stitutionally take such action. When a majority reported the next year 
that it had the right, prolonged discussion broke out, and decision was 
deferred. The following year the Presbytery of Lexington, Kentucky, 
served notice that many of its ministers and members owned Negroes "from 
principle." Here was proof, if any were needed, of the failure of the 
policy of inaction to keep the church united. The practical result was that 
only presbyteries in antislavery territory took a stand, leaving the institution 
elsewhere unrebuked and very much alive, 

The General Assembly voted to condemn the Lexington unit and asked 
it to modify its stand. Southern delegates protested that this was an "in- 
direct" exscinding act as odious as that which in 1837 had driven the New 
School synods from the parent church. During the next year twenty-one 

40 Quoted in Barnes, Church and Slavery, pp. 72-73, 75, from the Minutes of ike 
General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, (1839), p. 22; (1843), pp. 18-19. CL 
Gillett, Presbyterian Church, II, 549-50. 

41 Quoted in Barnes, op. cit, pp. 76-78. 



border presbyteries withdrew to form the United Synod of the Presbyterian 
Church, carrying with them fifteen thousand members. They refused to 
join even the Old School communion, regarding its principles insufficiently 
clear in defense of slaveholding! 42 

Through all these churchly debates over political and ecclesiastical 
measures, finally, ran the thread of an essentially religious paradox 
whether Christians might do violence in pursuit of charitable ends. The 
dilemma was as old as the faith itself, Jesus having been, in a sense, cruci- 
fied upon the arms of it. In Gethsemane he had bidden Peter to sheathe his 
sword. How then could his disciples march off to holy war, singing 
"John Brown's body lies amold'ring in the grave"? 

Even in William Lloyd Garrison the ideal of Christian love operated 
to deter as well as to inspire antislavery action. Partly under the influence 
of the antinornian perfectionist, John Humphrey Noyes, Garrison decided 
in 1837 that Christians must renounce all allegiance to violent and 
coercive governments. Only thus could they bear the cross of Christ and 
be crucified unto the world. To this end Garrison announced in December 
of that year his readiness to lead a new and radical peace crusade, one 
which would show that the Quakers had erred only in not going far 
enough. The outcome was the organization in 1838 of The New England 
Non-Resistance Society, in which Bronson Alcott, Sarah Grimke', and 
Abby Kelley, as \vell as the editor of TJze Liberator, played leading roles. 43 
Thus, in the name of charity, did Garrison dissociate himself from re- 
sponsible policy during the very year in which the irresponsible rancor 
of his journalism reached high pitch. While disdaining the muck of 
politics, the transcendentalist agitators thereafter threw mud by the wheel- 
barroiv at all who did not occupy their 'lofty ground/' Christian love had 
indeed found a strange apostle. 

At the opposite extreme stood those who, as one editor complained, dis- 
played a full measure of the graces of forbearance toward slaveholders. 
The New York Observer, he noted, "deprecates any unkind words, or 
harsh judgment, or rigid church discipline, and aims to win the offenders 
to a right course by the majestic power of Christian love." Because of 
this "sentiment of confraternity," one of the moderate Methodists con- 
fessed later, "we preached carefully, or not at all, the great common rights 
of manhood and the fearful crimes of slavery . . . until we had actually 

, pp. 84-107, -passim; GiDett, Pre&yterwn Chwck, n, 555-58. 
8 Tyler, Freedom's Ferment, pp. 41 1-14, 



manufactured an entire department of law and logic and gospel and 
etiquette to accommodate it." 44 

During the war Southern clergymen did not hesitate to show what use 
they could make of the doctrine of love. In an "Address to Christians 
Throughout the World" they asked how measures of violence could 
"coerce a people to brotherly kindness, unity, and devotion to each other." 
They denounced as "worthy of universal reprobation" Lincoln's proclama- 
tion that the slaves in rebellious areas of the South were free. It was, they 
said, "in no proper sense an act of mercy to the slave, but of malice toward 
the master." This, and the bloody carnage, persuaded others besides Albert 
Barnes that year that peace should be concluded on terms acceptable to 
the South. 45 

Thus for two decades Garrison cried "war" but refused to fight, and 
the proslavery clergy answered "peace" when there was no peace. Caught 
in the middle, evangelicals dared not forsake either the slave or the Golden 
Rule. Nor could they simply rest in the hope Wilbur Fisk proffered, in 
opposition to the Methodist abolitionists of New England, that love would 
destr@y evil unattended. The spirit of the gospel, Fisk opined, thrust the 
nation irresistibly toward freedom. But men like George Barrell Cheever 
knew that, however much the law of love stood in contradiction to human 
bondage, that law would not prevail until men bore a cross for it. 46 

The time had come, wrote the editors of Boston's Baptist newspaper 
in 1857, for Northern Christians to realize that charity and forbearance 
were not winning, but simply emboldening the slaveholders, "It seems to 
us quite idle to talk longer of the existence of sound views among the 
great body of Southern Christians," they wrote. Conservative men in 
the North were "deceiving themselves, and inflicting fatal injury on the 
cause of righteousness, by such a pretence." Southern churchmen were, 
in fact, now asking that slavery be conceded "to be no sin, nor an evil, but 
a blessing to both races. It must be confessed to be consonant with Chris- 
tianity, and a providential institution for the conversion of Pagan Africa." 
No longer could sincere believers allow Christ's decree to be broken and 

** The Watchman and Reflector, July 16, 1857, p. 2; Peck, Great Republic, p. 570. 

45 Quoted in Peter G. Mode, Sourcebook and Bibliographical Guide for American 
Church History (Menasha, Wise., 1921), pp. 611-13; The Watchman and Reflector, Feb. 
12, 1863. 

** Prentice, Wilbur Fisfc, pp. 207-8, 211-12; George Bairefl Cheever, God Against 
Slavery, and the Freedom and Duty of the Pulpit to "Rebuke It, -As a Sin Against God 
(New York, 1857), pp. 94-95, 100, 101. Cf. Matlack, Orange Scott, pp. 256, 261, for 
Scott's thoughts on I Corinthians 13. 



fail, in the name of that precept, to rebuke its txaducers. They must now 
rise up to declare with united voice 

that slavery tramples on the great law, "Thou shah love thy neighbor as thy- 
self; that it is inconsistent with the spirit of the gospel o Christ; and those 
who support it and seek to perpetuate a system of oppression forfeit their title 
to the name Christian, 41 

Thereafter the "terrible logic of events," as the New York Christian 
Advocate and Journal put it, rapidly hammered the ploughshare of love 
into a sword. That paper, so long a foe of radicalism, was by 1861 calling 
for immediate emancipation of the Negroes. In Boston Edward N. Kirk's 
Thanksgiving sermon the same year glorified war as fervently as Horace 
Greeley ever did. Basing his remarks upon the Psalm which begins, "I 
will sing of mercy and judgment," Kirk declared that there could be no 
compassion for the slave without vengeance for his master. "Blessed be 
the war," cried this erstwhile champion of the peace crusade; for it had 
given the lie to Quaker quietism and destroyed the myth that the God 
of the New Testament was not the sovereign of the Old. 48 

No peace without war. No love without hate. Julia Ward Howe's 
paradoxical Christ, who came in the beauty of the lilies to trample out the 
grapes of wrath, was a mirror of the age. 

Nathan Bangs died a month after the Battle of Shiloh, convinced 
that God had at last "taken the problem into His own almighty hand." He 
was working out its solution, Bangs believed, "with such retribution, on 
Church and State, North and South, as should astonish all the civilized 
world, and rebuke alike the traculence and cowardice of men." By their 
compromises, wrote another, the churches had only brought judgment upon 
themselves. 'The divine purpose had transferred to war the honor of free- 
ing the oppressed." 4S 

Abraham Lincoln said it more eloquently in his immortal second in- 
augural address. Only so, in the conviction that sovereign Deity had seized 
the helm of events to punish in bloody conflict the sins of both sections 
and all parlies, could Christians fight to free the slaves with malice toward 

4T The Watchman and Reflector, Oct. 1, 1857, p. 2. 

**71ie American Missionary f V Q861), p. 268, quoted and commented upon the 
Christian Advocate's statement. See also Mears, Kirk, pp. 283, 29 1. 

** Stevens, Nathan Bangs, p. 322. Cf. Julian M. Sturtevant, The Lessons of Our 
National Conflict. Address to the Alumni of Yah College . . , (New Haven, 1861), pp. 18- 
20; The Watchman and Reflector, Jan. 1, 1863, p. 1. 



none, with charity for all. The judgments of the Lord were true and right- 
eous altogether. His was the scourge of war which should requite the 
bondsman's toil. 

Here is, perhaps, the place to note how similar was Lincoln's enigmatic 
stand on slavery to that of the churchmen. Like them, he had experienced 
a full range of inward tension on the subject, seeking all the while 
Webster's promised land of "liberty and union." When, however, Federal 
bayonets were drawn in Boston to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act and 
Kansas bled from the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, he, like they, 
saw more paradox than promise in the famous orator's phrase. The union, 
shield of liberty, now seemed on the verge of becoming an instrument of 

Lincoln's first recourse and it seemed to antislavery clergymen a re- 
sponsible one, however much based, as we now know, on a misunderstand- 
ing of geography was to unite with the Republican party on a platform 
forbidding the further extension of slavery in the Western territories. They 
thought thus to set the institution in the way of ultimate extinction. When, 
however, the Dred Scott Decision placed the supreme law of the land in 
array against this program or so, at least, Lincoln said it did the issue 
was fatefully joined. He wrote his "House Divided" speech the next spring, 
while churchmen sought the Baptism with the Holy Ghost. 50 

Whether the deepening of moral conviction in the year 1858 was as 
important a cause of the conflict as the estrangement of Stephen A. 
Douglas from the Southern Democrats, to the latter of which events 
Lincoln contributed perhaps more than the former, is a question others 
must answer. In any case, the prairie politician won nomination and 
election to the presidency two years later. War came then, as much because 
the South's leaders could not believe in Lincoln's essential conservatism as 
that they would not endure his moral opposition to slavery. Here, too, the 
parallel is obvious between what happened among the statesmen and what 
occurred between the two camps of clergymen North and South. 

Both before and during the war, therefore, the citizens who by ethical 
conviction were best able to share Lincoln's ends and by painful experi- 
ence most qualified to understand his conservative means were the evan- 
gelical ministers in the North. Many of them considered themselves his 

80 Albert J. Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1858 (Boston, 1928), H, 30-32, 
151-52, 218-22, 238-39, 244-54, 358-61, 500-13, makes these points dear. 



friends and advisors, none more so than Bishop Matthew Simpson, who 
gave the address at the president's burial in Springfield. 51 

Not only in America were they the mainstay of Republicanism. A swarm 
of preachers from the revivalist camp shared with Minister Charles Francis 
Adams the task of explaining to the British people how a war carried on 
ostensibly to save the union was in fact destined to give the deathblow to 
slavery. Most of them wrote and spoke without any collaboration with 
the administration In Washington, Others, like J. M. Sturtevant ? president 
of Illinois College, and George B. Cheever, went with Lincoln's or the 
party's blessing. The list of those who were In England early in the war 
included some of the most respected evangelicals of America Charles G. 
Flnney, Henry Ward Beecher, William Taylor, William Arthur (an 
Englishman popular In this country), Dr. and Mrs. Walter C. Palmer, and 
Bishop Charles P. Mcllvaine. Among the English liberals and noncon- 
formists, especially, their testimony helped to neutralize the arguments 
which were pulling the Queen's government perilously close to alliance 
with the South, 52 

The conflicts which dogged the path of Christians who sought freedom 
for the slave, then, began in the late 1830's with the disruption of 
the American Antislavery Society, the suppression of radical abolition- 
ists in the Methodist conferences, and the expulsion of the New School 
synods from the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. The fabrication under 
Princeton auspices of proslavery arguments which appealed to ancient evan- 
gelical prejudices occurred at about the same time. A decade of indecision 
followed, during which churchmen seemed disarmed by the political, 
ecclesiastical, and religious Issues which the slavery crisis raised. 

In retrospect, the confusion which these dilemmas produced In the vari- 
ous denominations seems to have been neither more nor less than that In 
American society as a whole. Vested interests combined with pious dreams 
and ties of brotherly sentiment to make the unity of both church and na- 
tion a thing more precious than freedom for the Negro. The conservative 

81 William Warren Sweet, The Methodist Episcopal Church and the Civil War (Cin- 
cinnati, 1912), pp. 155-57, 159; Clark, Matthew Simpson, pp. 240-46, 

BS See William Arthur's introduction to Fisch, Nine Months, dated Dec. 6, 1862, pp. x, 
xii; William Taylor, Cause and Probable Results of the Civil War in America (London, 
1862); Charles H. Rammelkamp, "The Reverberations o tlie Slavery Conflict in a Pioneer 
College," The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XIV (1927-28), pp. 459-60; William 
Wilson Manross, A History of the American Episcopal Church (2nd ed., New York, 1950), 
p. 294; George L Rodcwood, Cheever, Lincoln and the Causes of the Civil War (Worcester, 
Mass., 1936), pp. 30-31. 



temper which preferred to let well enough alone rather than cope with 
thorny problems became as strong in ecclesiastical assemblies as in the halls 
of Congress. Everywhere men of good will whether saints or skeptics 
rejected all thought of armed conflict even while adopting measures which, 
in the name of human brotherhood, drove the country toward a brother's 
war. Slavery, and the poison of racial prejudice which it created, was to 
be the nation's rock of offense. Its woe was not to be restricted to those 
from whom the offense came. The fathers had sinned, and the children's 
teeth were set on edge. 



The Spiritual Warfare 
Against Slavery 

By and large, churchmen in tune with the new revivalism 
could most easily cut through the dilemmas which held other Christians 
back from the campaign to free the Negroes. Their moral fervor, the habit 
of reducing complex matters to simple terms, and their restless enthusiasm 
had tempered the blade of reform during President Jackson's era. The 
thesis of this chapter is that after the silent 'forties, during which evan- 
gelical abolition faltered and revivals waned, a new generation of soul 
winners united with veterans like Charles G. Finney and Albert Barnes 
to summon the churches to their duty. From 1850 onward, the reverbera- 
tions of this moral strife opened widening fissures in the solidarity of the 
nation. The antislavery leaders believed that the conflict of conscience 
would result in the peaceful emancipation of the Negro. Instead, it piled 
up the combustibles of civil war. 

To be sure, the impact of political events, not the preacher's cry, 
awakened mid-century America to the menace of the "slave power/' The 
debates over the Wilmot Proviso, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas- 
Nebraska Act, and the Dred Scott Decision rang each in turn, to use 
Thomas Jefferson's phrase, a firebell in the night. But in the vanguard of 
those who answered the alarm were the evangelists, whose compassion 
for men and hatred of sin struck once more an answering chord in the 
nation's heart. 

Chiefly significant is the fact that revival Christianity had since 1830 
adjusted itself to urban conditions. It was more thoughtful in temper, more 
chastened by bitter experience with schismatics and fanatics, more firmly 
entrenched in positions of ecclesiastical and educational leadership than 
before. These gains enabled the evangelistic clergymen to exert an influence 
upon city dwellers, who now occupied the pivotal position in the anti- 
slavery fight Horace Greeley, William Lloyd Garrison, and the preachers 
who represented the American and Foreign Antislavery Society had kept 
alive the sentiment for freedom in rural and small-town districts along the 



northern edge of the free states. Balanced against the inhabitants of this 
zone were the farmers and townspeople of the lower Middle West, who 
idolized Stephen A. Douglas, champion of compromise. Moral conviction 
was most needed to overcome the weight of economic interest in the cities, 
and so tip the scales for liberty. The crucial battle for men's minds was 
fought in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia; in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and 
Chicago. Here revivalists played a leading role. 1 

By 1852 a score of religious newspapers had become the harbingers of 
a renewed campaign against the national curse. In Boston the Methodist 
Zions Herald, muted for ten years, rang out the antislavery theme clearly 
again after Daniel Wise had replaced Abel Stevens as its editor. "We are 
for peace, purity, liberty and temperance," Wise declared in his maiden 
utterance. "Toward slavery, especially, we cannot show aught but undis- 
guised abhorrence. Our only business with it, shall be to seek its 'extirpa- 
tion* by all judicious and prudent means; especially from the Church of 
Christ." The only criterion by which he proposed to screen abolitionist 
articles was whether or not they would promote the spread of scriptural 
holiness! Within a few weeks his editorial on 'The Christian as a Citizen" 
declared that "political action is moral action" because the Lord expects our 
every act to be holy; to withdraw from politics is to encourage the growth of 
evil in the world. 2 

By its side in Boston appeared The Congregationalism equally committed 
to the cause, and the Baptist Watchman and Reflector, more cautious, more 
spiritually minded, but on that very account immensely effective when its 
well-written editorials appealed to moral sentiment against the South's 
cherished institution. The Christian Register, organ of all but Theodore 
Parker's wing of Unitarians, was no more advanced in its views than any of 
these. 3 

Methodists in upper New York State looked to The Northern Christian 
Advocate. Prior to 1856 William Hosmer, a leader of the radical holiness 
party whose battles with the episcopacy were eventually to produce the 
Free Methodist Church, was its editor. Hosmer dedicated his volume, The 
Higher Law, published in 1852, to William H. Seward. He declared 
slavery to be in conflict with God's laws of love, of improvement, of 

1 See earlier, pp. 59-60, 72-73. 

* Zion's Herald, July 7, 1852, p. 2, and Aug. 11, 1852, p. 2. C. "Civilization and 
Slavery," tlie same, Aug. 18, 1852, p. 4. 

'Frank L. Mott, A History of American Magazines, 1850-1865 (Cambridge, Mass, 
1938), pp. 67-68, and $as$im, discusses many of these. 



purity, and of equality. "Holiness or moral purity is one of the most 
essential principles of the gospel," Hosmer wrote, "but slavery is a viola- 
tion of that right." As for equality, Christianity was in his eyes a system 
of "spiritual agrarianism" which put prince and peasant, master and servant 
on a common plane. Men had no right to make a constitution which 
sanctioned human bondage. If they did, the believer's duty was to defy it. 

The fact that a law is constitutional amounts to nothing, unless it is also 
pure; it must harmonize with die law of God, or Be set at naught by all upright 
men. Wicked laws not only may be broken, hut absolutely must be broken; 
there is no other way to escape the wrath of God. . . . When the fundamental 
law of the land is proved to be a conspiracy against human rights, law ceases 
to be law, and becomes a wanton outrage on society. 4 

The collection of Hosmer's editorials ivhich appeared the next year 
under the title, Slavery and the Church, illustrates even more clearly how 
perfectionism combined with millennial aspiration to turn Methodists 
toward reform. The mission of the church, he wrote, is "to establish the 
kingdom of God on earth by the banishment of unrighteousness, and the 
introduction of universal holiness." The exclusion of slaveholders from 
fellowship was prerequisite to this end. Failing this, he declared, "we should 
only have, on a large scale, what now occurs in lesser degree, wherever 
slavery is tolerated in the church a religion without holiness gospel prog- 
ress without gospel morals." Christianity would become a curse, "sanction- 
ing and perpetuating vices which it was designed to remove." The Scripture 
would be "made to serve the purpose of chains and manacles" and the 
church converted into a slave pen. No, he cried, the gospel is "a system of 
holiness," It cannot be allied to evil. The work of conversion is, and must 
be, an indiscriminate war against sin, "all sin sin of every kind and 
degree." 5 

The same conference which in 1852 placed Hosmer and Wise in charge 
of their papers elected the notorious compromiser Thomas E. Bond to 
edit the New York Christian Advocate and Journal. Bond's supporters 
claimed he was the one person best qualified to quell the disturbance 

*WiIBam Hosmer, The Higher Law In Its Relation to CM Government, with Par- 
ticular Reference to Slavery and the Fugitive Slave Law (Auburn, N. Y., 1852), pp. 175- 
76, 178; see also pp. 100-03. Zion's Herald, May 26, 1852, p. 3, and Sept. 13, 1854, p. 146, 
applauded Hosmer's paper heartily; cf. Abd Stevens, Life and Times of Nathan Bangs 
DJD. (New York, 1863), p. 322 for a Jess favorable description. 

* William Hosmer, Slavery and the Church (Auburn, N. Y., 1853), pp. 129-30, 155- 
57, 164. 



over laymen's rights. The antislavery party believed, however, that their 
real purpose was to retain Methodism's largest weekly in the service of 
the bishops' tender solicitude for the border conferences. The stage was set 
for an editorial war but not, as in 1844, a division of the denomination. 

'Were the out and out antislavery portion of the church to withdraw," 
one of the Genesee preachers wrote in Zions Herald, "there would be 
no M.E. church left. Majorities never secede." Whole conferences were 
committed, he declared, "old men, strong men, young men together; and 
no thought of secession enters their mind. . . . Slavery, not we, not the 
North, will leave the church." Daniel Wise counseled the New England 
conferences that if Dr. Bond should attack them as he had the New York 
State abolitionists, they should receive it in dignified silence. "Only let 
us adhere to our great work of spreading scriptural holiness throughout 
these lands," he said, "and leave unprofitable controversies alone; thus 
God will bless the labors of our hands, and crown all our spiritual princi- 
ples with success." 8 

Though the radical party failed to force their program through the Gen- 
eral Conference during the next eight years, their spokesmen became the 
conscience of Methodism. John McClintock reviewed Hosmer's work very 
favorably in the denominational quarterly, though he insisted that thou- 
sands unwillingly connected with the institution were innocent of per- 
sonal guilt. Even Dr. Bond had to defend himself against the charge that 
he was an abolitionist because he agreed that slaveholding "for gain 11 was 
a sin. 7 In 1857 Edward Thomson, president of Ohio Wesleyan University, 
denounced as a subterfuge the argument that Christians in the South 
should retain their slaves in obedience to state laws forbidding manumis- 
sion. The truth is, he said: 

that Christian doctrine is liable to be perverted and Christian practice lowered 
by the Church. . . . He is not an innovator, but a restorer of the Gospel, who 
applies it to the sins of the times. The soft and slippered Christianity which 
disturbs no one, is not the Christainity of Christ, who brought upon himself 
persecutions and revilings wherever he went, or of Paul, who turned the world 
upside down. 8 

8 Zfcn's Herald, Oct. 20 and Dec. 22, 1852; c Nov. 12, 1852, p. 4. 

*The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXV (1853), pp. 143-45? LXIV (1882), pp. 392- 
93; The Christian Advocate and Journal, Jan. 18, 1855, p. 10. C,, an the latter publica- 
tion, the editorials for Jan. 11, 1855, p. 6, Feb. 1, 1855, p. 18, and the article by J. L. 
Crane in the issue for Jan. 3, 1856, p. 1. 

Edward Thomson, "Slavery," The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXXDC (1857), 
pp. 533, 539-40. 



In New York City, nevertheless, antislavery leadership in the religions 
press belonged not to the Methodist and Baptist newspapers but to The 
Independent, founded by influential Congregationalist pastors in Decem- 
ber, 1848. Joseph Thompson, R. S. Storrs, Henry Ward Beecher, and 
George B. Cheever dedicated their paper to fighting the extension of 
slavery in the territories and promoting various other moral reforms 
through political action. They reflected most accurately the ideas of re- 
vival Christians who stood midway between cautious evangelists like Albert 
Barnes and George Duffield on one hand and the radical perfectionists of 
Oberlin and New York State on the other. Moreover, they represented a 
denomination whose strength outside the national metropolis lay in anti- 
slavery territory New England, the Mohawk Valley, and northern Ohio. 
They could, therefore, proceed without much restraint other than their 
own good judgment required. Joshua Leavitt, who had gained fame as 
abolitionist head of The Evangelist in the 1830's and later of The Emanci- 
pator, served as managing editor. 9 

By contrast, the New School pastors and their paper, The Evangelist, 
the only other important antislavery weekly in New York, were preoc- 
cupied with the internal problems of their sect. Whatever they said affected 
the fortunes of revival Presbyterianism in the border areas southward. 
The city itself was their chief battleground with the Old School. The 
Observer was published there and Princeton Seminary lay nearby. 

At first The Independent limited itself to the freesoil platform, secure 
in the belief that an institution which did "hourly violence to the moral 
sense of those who maintain it" was destined to pass away, if it could only 
be hemmed in. The debates over the Compromise of 1850, ho\vever, cast 
doubt on this comforting idea. An editorial published in the fall of that year 
expressed the opinion that the masses of the people in the North had 
<f become more deeply imbued with hatred of the slave system than ever 
before." Though the editors did not propose to interfere with it as it existed 
in the South otherwise than by moral means "argument, persuasion, and 
Christian appeal" they now demanded that it should "cease forever 
in the District of Columbia'* and that fugitives from its bondage should 
be "as free as the wind when they entered the North." 10 

Douglas's Kansas-Nebraska Bill destroyed the free-soil platform as a 

9 The Independent, Jan. 4, 1849, p. 1, and Dec. 19, 1850, p. 2. 

10 Cf., the saiae, the editorial for Oct 10, 1850, p. 2, with that of Jan. 3, 1850, 2; see 
also the supplement for the issue of March 21, 1850. 



practical policy but made it all the more appealing as a rallying point for 
popular resentment against the growing power of the slave states in Wash- 
ington. During the debates over this measure The Independent printed in 
full the speeches of Senators William H. Seward, Charles Sumner, and 
Salmon P. Chase. After the bill had passed, the editors declared ominously 
that even should it be repealed, a peaceable solution of the question had 
become impossible. 

Do what we will, we can not now get rid o slavery without suffering. . . . 
The Fugitive-Slave Law and the Nebraska bill have assumed the conservation 
of slavery by the national arm. And a Christian nation that in this age has 
voluntarily given itself to the crime of oppression must suffer the judgments of 
heaven. . . . Slavery will go down. . . . But the law of divine retribution is noiv 
arrayed against us, and will work itself out 11 

Six months later an editorial with the title 'Where Are We Drifting?" 
declared that the country was "marching as straight upon disunion as ever 
people did, and blindfolded." For the sake of peace and union the South 
had been given an advantage which, once secured, they would "use to goad 
the North to inevitable rupture." Those who advised acquiescence now 
counseled "disunion and belligerency hereafter." 12 

At this point George Barrell Cheever emerged to prominence on the 
paper's editorial board. More even than Beecher, Cheever by his flaming 
essays on the higher law scattered the fog of pious compromise which be- 
tween periods of excitement settled inexorably upon New York. 13 Cheever 
had become pastor in 1845 of the Church of the Puritans, organized to 
provide an arena for the exercise of his talents as an agitator. He had 
campaigned steadily against all forms of "evil," including especially Unitar- 
ianism, Catholicism, intemperance, Sabbath desecration, slavery, and the 
worship of wealth. 14 

In a dozen books and pamphlets whose titles rang with tones of prophetic 

11 The same, June 8, 1854. See also issues that year for May 18, p. 156, May 25, p. 164, 
and June 15, pp. 186-87. 

18 The same, Jan. 18, 1855, p. 1. 

18 See, for examples, Cheever's editorials, "The Sure Aggressive Tyranny of Slave 
Legislation/' the same, March 8, 1855, p. 73, and "The Sphere of Conscience as the 
Judge and Interpreter of Law," the same, May 31, 1855, p. 169. 

14 George I. Rockwood, Cheever, Lincoln and Causes of the Civil War CWoicester, 
Mass., 1936), pp. 40-55, and jp&ssim, greatly emphasizes Gheever's role. Cf. Earl Morse 
Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism in Transylvania, England, and America (Cambridge, 
1952), H, 453. 



denunciation Cheever set forth the doctrine that slavery was both a per- 
sonal and a national sin, and that ministers of the Gospel were God's chosen 
instruments for destroying it. In a democracy, he declared, the people 
and the government become enmeshed together in guilt for wicked laws. 
Private conscience, the only guarantee of public integrity, may be prostrated 
to "support the nation's sin." Unless the people determine upon "resistance 
in behalf of God, they go to rain together." Clergymen must awaken in 
every Christian the will to renounce and disobey evil statutes. "Only by 
being faithful to God," he said, "can a people keep their freedom." 15 

Here was a preacher whose vituperative skill equalled Garrison's and 
whose zeal for the application of ethical principles to social problems was as 
great as Theodore Parker's. Yet as much as any revivalist he loved the 
souls of men, revered the Bible as final authority and maintained unwaver- 
ing allegiance to evangelical doctrine. The idea of the higher law, which 
the transcendentalists supported by a philosophy nobody understood and 
the politicians by combinations of interest which few could trust, Cheever 
established upon the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah. He spoke to the 
many, they to the initiated few. And an aura of divine sanction rested 
upon every word he uttered. 16 

Cheever's preaching drew blood, a fact plain from the howls of disap- 
proval which rose weekly from The New York Observer and James Gor- 
don Bennett's New York World. These two papers circulated more widely 
in the South than any other religious or secular journals. They served 
notice upon the partisans of bondage that the churchly indecision of 
the 'forties had come to an end. Abolition was no longer the hobby of 
fanatics but the moral objective of the greatest preachers in the free states. 
When the Rev. Frederick A. Ross accepted Cheever's challenge and de- 
clared the "sin theory" the "only honest ground for opposition to slavery" 
and the doctrine that it was ordained by God as a positive good its only 
worthy defense, the conflict of conscience was set in battle array. 17 

18 George Banell Cheever, God Against Slavery; and the Freedom and Duty of the 
Pulpit to Rebuke It, as a Sin Against God (New York, 1857), pp. 24-25. C. generally, 
by the same author, Fire and Hammer of God's Word Against the Sin of Slavery (New 
York, 1858); Commission from God Against the Sin of Slavery (Boston, 1858); and The 
Guilt of Slavery and the Grime of Slaveholding f Demonstrated from, the Hebrew and 
Greek Scriptures (Boston, 1860). The D.A.B. sketch o Cheever's career is by Frederick 
T. Persons. 

18 Cheever, God Against Slavery, pp. 46-47; Rockwood, Cheever, Lincoln, pp. 44, 52; 
see earlier, pp. 53, 65, 88, 199. 

1T Rockwood, op. c*X pp. 14, 19, 73-76, 79-81, and yassim, elaborates this point; 



Revivalists of all persuasions contributed to the goal for which such anti- 
slaveiy editors were striving in the cities of the North. In Newark, Henry 
Clay Fish cried out in the name both of national liberty and 'human 
brotherhood against the slave power. 'We are linked together, bone of 
the same bone, and flesh of the same flesh the members of one common 
family/' he declared. Francis Wayland told the "Nebraska meeting" in 
Providence that he valued the union as much as any man. He "would 
cheerfully sacrifice to it everything but truth and justice and liberty." But, 
he added, "To form a union for the sake of perpetuating oppression is to 
make myself an oppressor. . . . The Union itself becomes to me an ac- 
cursed thing, if I must first steep it in the tears and blood of those for 
whom Chirst died." 18 

The only major exceptions were the Methodist perfectionists surround- 
ing Phoebe Palmer. Her fast friends, Bishops Edmund Janes and Leonidas 
Hamline, were the architects of the policy of silence which later became 
the regret of Northern Methodism. George and Jesse Peck, Nathan Bangs, 
Alfred Cookman, and a host of her other admirers supported it fully. Al- 
though Henry V. Degen, editor of The Guide to Holiness, pointed to the 
moral issues at stake in the election of 1856 and asked his readers to pray 
for the success of God's man, he identified neither the man nor the issues. 
"We have naturally but little relish for politics," Degen explained, "and if 
we had, we are not disposed to leave our appropriate mission, and enter the 
political arena. But the times are ominous, and if ever we needed divine 
intervention, we need it now." 10 

As titular head of the holiness revival Mrs. Palmer's position was a dif- 
ficult one. The schisms of 1843 and 1844 had laid both abolitionism and 
perfectionism under continuing suspicion of disloyalty. The decade after 
1850 produced a welter of conflict over methods and terminology which 
seriously endangered her movement. The Free Methodist agitation in 
western New York did not help matters. Her friendship with the church's 
leaders was, therefore, absolutely vital. 

Frederick A. Ross, Slavery Ordained of God (Philadelphia, 1859}, contains speeches made 
before the New School General Assembly in 1853 and 1856. 

18 The Watchman and Reflector, March 30, 1854, pp. 49-50; Henry C. Fish, freedom 
or Despotism. The Voice of Our Brother's Blood . . . (Newark, 1856), p. 12. Cf., in the 
latter work, pp. 16-17, and David O. Hears, Life of Edward Norris KirJc D.D. (Boston, 
1877), pp. 247-48. 

19 The Guide to Holiness, XXX (July-December, 1856), p. 127; Richard Wheatley, 
. . . Phoebe Palmer (New York, 1876), pp. 218, 315, 552, 599-601. See also earlier p. 123, 
and Jesse T. Peck, The History of the Great Republic . . . (New York, 1868), pp. 573-74. 



In such circumstances the otherworldly and spiritual aspects of Phoebe 
Palmer's quest for perfect love readily won out over the impulse to anti- 
slavery reform. Although early to take part in the relief of the widowed, 
orphaned, and imprisoned or in any other task which required the ex- 
ercise of compassion, her New York and Philadelphia coterie were laggards 
in whatever demanded stem attacks on persons and institutions. Nor did 
they champion women's rights, either, despite the spiritual equality with 
men which their leader and others in the group achieved. Denouncing 
social and political injustice remained for them a prerogative of divinity. 
Thus when Mrs. Palmer received news in England of the Emancipation 
Proclamation, she wrote an American friend that for many years she had 
anticipated "days of sadness, when the righteous Judge would chasten us" 
for "the cruel wrongs of the slave." But, like so many "spiritual" Christians, 
she had left the issue in the hands of Providence, never doubting "that the 
God of battles would give us victory." 20 

Quite the opposite happened when perfectionist experience combined, 
as in Finney, with a hearty tradition of social responsibility and a personal 
preoccupation with reform. The results in that case were politically ex- 
plosive, as indeed they were in the late 1840's when, as we have seen, 
Mrs. Palmer s doctrines reached Methodist abolitionists in New England 
and upper New York. There the Wesleyan Methodists had cultivated holi- 
ness and humanitarianism together from the beginning. "We are or- 
ganized," Orange Scott wrote in 1845, on "principles that require us to stand 
out prominently before the world as a class of religious and moral re- 
formers." He urged his followers to seek and find the second blessing. "Deep 
experience in the things of God" was "essential to the peace and usefulness 
of all Christians," but especially "to any class of Christian Reformers." 21 

The subtitle of the hymnbook Miriam's Timbrel, which the young 
Wesleyan denomination published, illustrates this combination of social 
and spiritual ideals so rare in the twentieth century. It announced Sacred 
Songs, Suited to Revival Occasions; and Also for Antislavery, Peace, Tem- 
perance, and Reform Meetings. In it appeared such gems as this one, sung 
to the tune of "America": 

Ye who in bondage pine, 
Shut out from light divine, 
Bereft of hope; 

10 Ftadbe Palmer, Four Years in the OU WorU . . . (New York, 1864), p. 647. 
** Matbck, Orange Scon, pp. 245, 248, 251, quotes Scott's editorials? cf. pp. 252-61. 



Whose limbs are worn with chains 
Whose tears bedew our plains 
Whose blood our glory stains 
In gloom who grope. 

Shout! for the hour draws nigh, 
That gives you liberty! 

And from the dust, 
So long your vile embrace, 
Uprising take your place 
Among earth's noblest race 

By right the first! 

Another substituted a dialogue between slaves and reformers for the 
responses in the familiar hymn, 'Watchman, Tell Us of the Night." Called 
'The Bondsman's Hope," it began, 

Freemen! tell us of the night, 

What its signs of promise are! 
Bondmen! lo! yon spreading light 

Freedom's glorious, beaming star! 

A hymn of judgment entitled 'Where is thy brother?" asked, 

What mean ye that ye bruise and bind 

My people, saith the Lord, 
And starve your craving brother's mind 

That asks to hear my word? 22 

The social radicalism of John Humphrey Noyes and William Lloyd 
Garrison sprang from an acceptance of the spirit though not the form of 
such Christian perfectionism. For hundreds of more orthodox clergymen, 
creed and charity found mystic union in religious experience, whether or 
not they called it "holiness." 

Aside from Mrs. Palmer's group, in fact, the appeal to otherworldliness 
was more characteristic of liturgical and antirevival Christians than their 
opposites. We have already noted the Old School's campaign against 
"political preaching." The Christian Review, a Baptist quarterly which 
among the periodicals of that denomination gave least and last place to 

"Miriam's Timfoel . . . (2nd. ed., Mansfield, Ohio, 1853), pp. 92-93, 97-98, 129-30. 



revivalism, maintained silence on slavery until the war broke out. The Lu- 
theran synods, in which the tide of pietistic fervor had begun to subside 
before the awakening of the national conscience reached its full extent, 
avoided controversy by appealing to the confessional nature of their church. 
Samuel S. Schmucker, the revival leader of the General Synod, and the 
perfectionist Franckean Synod in New York State were exceptions, as 
illustrated in the tide of Schmucler's sermon, The Christian Pulpit, the 
Rightful Guardian of Morals in Political, No Less Than in Private Life. 28 
Charles P. Mcllvaine and the Low Church Protestant Episcopal bishops, 
though in principle opposed to slavery, endured with becoming dignity 
the silence which High Church and Southern prelates imposed upon them 
until war came. Then, with equally becoming charity, they ignored all 
social issues save the sin of rebellion and so exalted the spiritual and 
heavenly ends of the faith that a tranquil reunion with the Southern 
churches was possible soon after the peace of 1865. The attitude of the 
Roman Catholic hierarchy was, incidentally, about the same. 24 

Revival clergymen sounded a different note. As the crisis deepened, 
their convictions hardened. 'There is a spirit abroad in the land," wrote 
Philadelphia's most famous citizen, Albert Barnes, in 1856, and "a voice 
uttered everywhere against slavery so loud and clear that it will ultimately 
be regarded." A year later the Baptist newspaper which was leading the 
return to revivalism in that denomination called for a review of every 
phase of the church's relation to the system. "Everything like indecision 
on this great question should be shunned," its editors declared; "hike- 
warmness is intolerable." What they proposed seemed naive to men of 
Parker's stripe, but not to those who understood the dynamics of evan- 
gelical moral sentiment "It is a time for prayer," they said, "for faithful 
dealing with ourselves, for a more earnest consecration to Christ, and the 
cultivation of a warmer benevolence for the souls he came to save." 25 

81 "The National Crisis," The Christian Review, XXVI (1861), pp. 491-95, 507-8; 
Charles William Heathcote, The Lutheran Church and the Civil War (New York, 1919), 
pp. 54-65; Robert Fortenbaugh, "American Lutheran Synods and Slavery, 1830-1860," 
The Journal of Religion, Xm (1933), pp. 72, 74, 91. Schmucker*s sermon was published 
at Gettysburg, Pa., in 1846. See earlier, pp. 55-60. 

** William W. Manross, A History of the American Episcopal Church (2nd. ed., rev., 
New York, 1950), pp. 290-92; see pp. 150-51. 

On the Catholic attitude see Madeleine Hooke Rice, American Catholic Opinion in the 
Slavery Controversy (New York, 1944), pp. 155-57, 275-96j and Anson Phelps Stokes, 
Church and State in the United States (New York, 1950), H, pp. 185-89. 

*' The Watchman and Reflector, March 26, 1857, p. 2; Albert Barnes, The Church and 
Slavery (2nd. ed., Philadelphia, 1857), p. 151. 



The appearance of Charles G. Finney and Elder Jacob Knapp at union 
revivals in the largest churches of Boston, New York; Baltimore, Buffalo, 
and Cincinnati in 1857 and 1858 indicated the direction such heart 
searching was to take. That men like Cheever, Edward N, Kirk, Wayland, 
Beecher, and Barnes took a prominent part in the nationwide awakening 
which followed is sufficient evidence that its leaders sought no escape 
from social responsibility. Horace Greeley believed rather that a rebirth 
of conscience was under way which should finally destroy slavery. Two 
clear-eyed Frenchmen who visited the country on the eve of the war 
agreed. Georges Fisch pointed to the fact that a half million men "had 
passed through all the anguish of repentance, and . . . had learned, through 
a living, personal contact with Jesus Christ, what charily really is." Count 
Ag6nor de Gasparin concluded that the revival of 1858 had been a pro- 
found agitation of national conviction which had paved the way to the 
election of Lincoln. "The great moral force which is struggling with 
American slavery," he wrote, "is the Gospel/' 20 

In retrospect, the peculiar power of these Christian knights of anti- 
slavery seems to have stemmed from the spirit of compassion toward 
sinning and suffering men which cropped out in their most heated 
denunciations of the "cherished institution." Herein lay the difference 
between Garrison and Finney in the 'thirties, and between Parker and 
Cheever in the 'fifties. The revivalists were the heirs of a tradition which 
judged sin even as it bore its cross. They might stigmatize all the vices of 
which slaveholders were guilty, but they had to love them still. They 
could not, therefore, either advocate secession of the North from the 
union, as Garrison did, nor send an army of John Browns to wreak 
vengeance upon the children of Belial. As the editor of an antislavery 
missionary magazine put it, "God will secure the deliverance of the op- 
pressed. Our work is to promote it by the pure Gospel of Christ, with 
its faithful application to all sin, and emphatically, to the great enormities 
of slavery/* 27 In this way they bound themselves and a widening circle 
in the nation to that union and liberty which Webster and Clay sought, 

* See editorials in The New York Tribune, March I, and 6, 1858; Ag&nor fi. de 
Gasparin, The Uprising of a Great People . . . (tr. Mary L. Booth; 4th ed., New York, 
1861), pp. 83, 86-87; Georges Fisch, Nine Months in the United States . . . (London, 
1863), p. 151, and generally pp. 147-66; and earlier, pp. 86-88. 

"The American Missionary (Magazine), HI, 6 (June, 1859), p. 131; II (November, 
1859), p. 251. Cf. Cheever, God Against Slavery, pp. 94-95; and The Watchman tmd 
Reflector, March 30, 1854, quoting with approval an identical statement in The Inde- 



while at the same time heaping faggots on the fire of division which 
those stalwart compromisers so greatly feared. 

Other forces, immense, complex, unpredictable, were also at work, 
thrusting the nation toward Armageddon. But no avenue of propaganda 
could have been devised more effectively to harden Northern antipathy 
toward slavery than the pulpits and the pens of such men. Nor could 
any have so deeply enflamed Southern pride. When in the great revival 
year Lincoln wedded politics to religion with the warning that a house 
divided against itself could not stand, the South did not forget. 

Two by-products of the spiritual attack upon slavery deserve particular 
emphasis: the rehabilitation of the Bible as an instrument of reform, and 
the contribution which the revivalists made to the idea of an American 

The use of the Holy Scriptures in defense of slavery deeply alarmed 
evangelicals. In 1845 a writer in Yale's New Englcmder challenged those 
who did so to 

meet the infidel on the question of the internal evidence of the divinity and 
truth of the Bible, if you can. Prove that any book, which authorizes and com- 
mands this "Complicated villainy," as John Wesley called it, is from the God 
of love, if you can. 

Albert Barnes charged that "all attempts to show that the Bible sanctioned 
human bondage" contributed "to just that extent, to sustain and diffuse 
infidelity in the world. This I maturely and firmly believe." 28 

Cheever, Barnes, and Joseph P. Thompson, representing the Con- 
gregationalist-New School tradition, and Charles Elliott, president of Iowa 
Wesleyan College and a close friend of Bishop Hamline, each published 
volumes designed to show that the Bible was an antislavery book. Cheever 
acknowledged that he wrote The Guilt of Slavery and the Crime of Slave- 
holding; Demonstrated from the Helnrew and Greek Scriptures out of 
"the conviction of the impossibility of a divine revelation sanctioning so 

at See "Slavery and the Bihle," The New Englander, XV (1857), pp. 129-30, quoting 
a review published in that journal twelve years "before; and Barnes, Church and Slavery, 
pp. 10*11. Cf. John Dempster's review of William Goodell, American Slave Code in 
Theory and Practice , . . (New York, 1858), in The. Methodist Quarterly Review, XL 
(1858), pp. 362-82; Peck, The Great Republic, pp. 573-74; and, especially, William W. 
Patton, Slavery and Infidelity: or Slavery in the Chwrch Insures Infidelity in the World 
(Cincinnati, 1857). Pattern's work, which elaborated Barnes's point at great length, received 
a lengthy notice in The New Englttnder, XV (1857), pp. 129-34. 



diabolical a cruelty and crime." As usual, his enthusiasm outran his logic 
and exegetical skill. Hebrew servitude, he said, was honorable and volun- 
tary. In contrast to the Egyptian system, it consisted of "paid and re- 
warded labor"; the Jews were a society of free men. A second treatise 
which Cheever published in 1857 enlarged upon the same point, but 
added the thought that such patriarchal slavery as did exist in Israel was 
contrary to the divine intention and brought with it a curse. 29 

Thompson wrote a companion volume called The New Testament on 
Slavery. He reasoned that the institution existed in the apostolic age only 
as a creature of Roman law. Nowhere did Paul aclmowledge its rightful- 
ness in the sight of God. Rather, by placing the relationship of masters 
and servants "under the higher law of Christian love and equality," the 
apostles "decreed the virtual abolition of slavery, and did in time abolish 
it wherever Christianity gained the ascendancy in society or in the state." 
Those who argued that the command to obey one's master sanctioned 
holding men as chattels might as easily prove that Christ's exhortation 
to turn the other cheek gave divine approval to assault and battery. 30 

Charles Elliott, a leader of the moderate party of Iowa Methodists, took 
the same position. Paul's teachings on the sovereignty of God, the equality 
of the races, the brotherhood of man, and universal redemption, together 
with his injunctions to shun sin and do good to all men, assaulted the 
foundation upon which Roman slavery stood. Moreover, Elliott pointed 
out, obedience to the apostles* principles of justice, equity, kindness, and 
holiness would require masters to grant freedom to their servants as far 
as it was in their power. 31 

An important by-product of such arguments was the spread of a 
rational and historical approach to the interpretation of Scripture, long 
before German critical scholarship became a seminary fashion. Joseph P. 
Thompson explained that the New Testament epistles were 

f9 Cheever, Guilt of Slavery, pp. iv, ix-xx; God Against Slavery, pp. 9-15, and passim. 
The substance of the former volume first appeared as a series of articles in BiUiotheca 
Sacra in 1855 and 1856. Cf. Albert Barnes, An Inquiry into the Scriptural Views of 
Slavery (Philadelphia, 1846). 

80 Joseph P. Thompson, Teachings of the New Testament on Slavery (New York, 
1856) is quoted here from the review in The New Englander, XV (1857), pp. 110, 113. 

81 Charles Elliott, The Bible and Slavery . . . (Cincinnati, 1857), pp. 336-54; the 
quotation is from pp. 351-52. Charles Adams, also a "moderate/' found Elliott much too 
conservative for his taste, in The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXXIX (1857), pp. 634- 
44. Cf. Aaron W. Haines, The Makers of Iowa Methodism . . (Cincinnati, 1900), p. 180. 



not tracts published to act upon society at large; nor were they collected and 
generally circulated, as now, In a book; but they were manuscript letters, which 
were sent to little companies composed generally of poor and unlnfluential 
persons. . . . These considerations . . . fully account for the omission in the 
epistles of many topics relating to society at large. 

The outbreak of war forced a contributor to even so conservative a 
journal as the Baptist Christian Review to acknowledge trie distinction be- 
tvveen biblical revelation "as an objective fact/ 7 and as a truth disclosed 
"to man's spiritual apprehension, to the grasp of his intellectual concep- 
tlons. J> The first is a perfected work, the writer stated, while the second 
is "ever advancing . . . yet never passing beyond" the written Word. Sig- 
nificantly, the chief factor which he thought responsible for the increase 
of antislavery interpretation of the Bible was "the majesty and power of 
God's onward-marching providence." 32 

In I860 a French visitor who was close to the antislavery evangelicals 
noted that they had at last realized that "a revelation, to be divine, does 
not cease to be progressive." If God deemed it proper "to give to his people, 
so long as they needed it, a legislation adopted to their social condition," 
such decrees might also have been "divinely abrogated afterward." More- 
over, he continued, the Gospels do not contain "a moral code, promulgated 
article by article" but rather a Golden Rule, in which lay the germ of 
"a series of commandments, of transformations, of progression, which we 
have not nearly exhausted." The Christian sense of right is relentless, he 
said, and those American pastors who preached the law of love struck 
shackles from the slave's back more certainly than those who proposed 
to take the sword to free him. 33 

Such a view of progressive revelation was only a few steps short of 
that which Horace Bushnell had expressed nearly twenty years earlier. 
"If there Is, by God's appointment, and is always to be, a progress In 
law," Bushnell wrote, nothing more is wanted for the final condemnation 
of an institution than to demonstrate that its day is now past. "If it can 
be shown that Christianity itself expects, and deliberately prepares, just 
this kind of advancement In the social capability of mankind, slavery is 

*See again The New Engender, XV (1857), p. 113; and "Does the Bible Sanction 
Slavery?" The Christian Review, XXVH (1862), pp. 584-85. 

"Gasparin, Uprising, pp. 93-94, 99-100. Cf. Fisch, Nine Months, pp. 130-31. 



then just as truly ruled out by the Scriptures, as if it were specifically con- 
demned." 34 

Thus by making the law of love the key to the Scriptures and subject- 
ing them to a Christian version of the doctrine of progress, Northern 
evangelicals escaped the strait jacket of literalism in which proslavery 
preachers were fatefully binding the conscience of the South. 85 In suc- 
ceeding years, the Grand Army of the Republic sang "Glory, Hallelujah, 
His truth is marching on," while Dixieland became the "Bible Belt," 
heart of fundamentalist America. Many of its citizens have believed ever 
since that the good book was a shield against social innovation. 

Meanwhile, revival religion's war on slavery sustained the theocratic 
ideal that God must rule American society, during the very decades 
when Orthodox Calvinists were forsaking it. 38 To be sure, politics never 
became the principal business of the evangelistic pulpit, except possibly 
in the case of Cheever. But the nineteenth-century soul winners were at 
war with all sin. The persistence across many years of a political crisis 
whose central issue was a moral one inevitably linked their declarations 
with public issues. When this happened, the sense of divine judgment 
which preachers of hell-fire and damnation could conjure up made them 
more effective propagandists of the higher law than any other class of 
citizens. That they on occasion applied the concept to divorce, the trade 
in alcohol, vice and its protection, corrupt politics, secret societies, Sab- 
bath desecration, and the love of money in all its forms whether from 
cotton or commerce did not lessen their impact on the popular mind. 
After 1850 no Princeton graduate remotely approximated the influence 
which men from Andover, Yale, Oberlin, Connecticut Wesleyan, and 
Union Theological Seminary exerted on behalf of the doctrine of God's 
sovereignty over American laws and institutions. 87 

8 * Horace Bushnell, Work and Play; or Literary Varieties (New York, 1864), pp. v-vi. 
Cf. the essay, "The Growth of Law," the same, pp. 78-123, and Charles C. Cole, Jr., 
"Horace Bushnell and the Slavery Question/' The New England Quarterly, XXIH (1950), 
pp. 19-30. 

85 William Sunnier Jenkins, Pro-Slavery Thought in the Old South (Chapel Hill, N. C., 
1935), pp. 218-24, suggests this point. Cf. Elliott, BiUe and Slavery, pp. 283-84, and 
Hosmer, HigJier Law, p. 175, the latter stressing the law of holiness rather than that of 
love. See also pp. 199-201. 

80 John R. Bodo, The Protestant Clergy and Public Issues, 1812-1848 (Princeton, N. J. 
1954), recounts fully the earlier Calvinist contributions. 

87 Barnes, Church and Slavery, pp. 159-60; "Higher Law and Divorces," The Inde- 
pendent, July 5, 1855, p. 212; the same, Aug. 31, 1854, p. 276. The American Missionary 
(Magazine'), IV, 7 (July, 1860), 149, and 8 (August, 1860), p. 181, condemned tobacco 
and slavery together. 



The preaching of Gilbert Haven, tie best-known Methodist abolitionist 
anci after 1872, a much-loved bishop In that denomination, will best 
serve to illustrate this fact. It demonstrates also the persistence into the 
nineteenth century of John Wesley's fervor for reform. Haven's youthful 
training in a Maiden, Massachusetts, home stamped devotion to holiness 
and abolition deep upon his character. While at Connecticut Wesleyan 
University 7 where Wilbur Fisk was president, he taught a Sunday-school 
class of young women at the Negro church in Middletown. He wrote 
his mother that this was proof of his fidelity and warned her with tongue 
in cheek that she must prepare to receive with great affection a dusky 
daughter-in-law. 38 

The young minister's sermon on 'The Higher Law," delivered during 
the debate over the Compromise of 1850, struck the notes of devotion and 
denunciation which characterized most of his later preaching. "In Christ, 
not in the Constitution, must we put our trust," Haven declared. "On 
his law should we meditate, not on that which nails him, scourged and 
bleeding, to that fatal cross." The next year, in his first pastorate at 
Northampton, Massachusetts, he expressed similar views in the community 
Fast Day sermon, "to the great joy of the Abolitionists/' he wrote a friend, 
"and the great rage of the Websterian portion of the audience." Mean- 
while, he read Jonathan Edwards* sermon on the religious affections, and 
books by Asa Mahan and T. C. Upham on entire sanctification. He was to 
seek the latter blessing intermittently until after the war. 39 

Three years later Haven announced to a Wilbraham, Massachusetts, 
congregation the views on race which set him apart from the general 
run of reformers. Caste feeling based on color was, he said, the cornerstone 
of American slavery. Yet "the Bible constantly proclaims the absolute 
oneness of the race of man, in Adam, Noah, and Christ." Christians who 
set out to destroy the institution must welcome the Negro to their homes 
and tables, and accept the biblical sanction of inter-racial marriage. 40 

Haven spent the following years in Methodist pastorates near Boston, 
speaking often at antislavery meetings. He fled from the sorrow of his 
wife's death to accept a chaplaincy with the Eighth Massachusetts Regi- 
ment when war broke out. In Maryland, Christian connivance with the 

88 George Prentice, The Life of Gilbert Haven . . . (New York, 1883), pp. 42-43, 59, 
70-7 3, 94. 

**IHi, pp. 292, 107, 137; GUbat Haven, National Sermons . . . (Boston, 1869), pp. 

"Haven, op. tit, pp. 137, 142-45, 14648. 



evil disgusted him. "Thank God, the kingdom of heaven is at hand," he 
wrote to his friends at home. "The march of events in the political, the 
religious, the social world, all show that He is soon to appear who will 
unloose these heavy burdens and let the oppressed go free, and break every 
yoke." 41 

Back in Boston in the spring of 1863, Haven addressed the preachers 
of the New England Conference on the means by which they must seek 
to establish this Kingdom. His sermon closely paralleled the ideas which 
William Arthur had publicized six years before. Haven denounced those 
who urged ministers to shun politics and preach only "Christ crucified/' 
while wicked men go on "establishing the state on injustice and framing 
iniquity by a law." Such counselors, he warned, were as dangerous as those 
who asked for silence on the sins of the theater, fiction reading, and 
usury! God had appointed the minister to "watch over souls" as one who 
must give an account. His duty, therefore, was to seek to make everything 
contribute to their salvation. 

Will a wicked system of government impeiil the spiritual welfare of its subjects? 
He must resist it unto the death. Will social vices tend to their corruption? 
They must be attacked and overthrown. . . . Would not a holy society, a cor- 
rect system of government, a pure and lofty literature . . . tend to the salvation 
of more souls than corrupted morals, despotic government, and debasing litera- 
ture? Christ crucified, preached to a community under the pressure of all 
manner of inward and outward lust, will be proclaimed almost as vainly as in 
Pandemonium itself. He is most successfully lifted up when all the surroundings 
approximate to the divinity of this central truth. . . . Christ crucified is the 
grand banner of the church. . . . But to come and hug that flag-staff with 
apparent fondness, while the enemy is plowing the outer lines with his diabolic 
artillery, is not affection it is cowardice. 42 

The remainder of this sermon reiterated Haven's views on racial equality, 
but in a setting of millennial hope. Divisions on account of language and 
color, he said, were a consequence of the Fall. As the world approached 
its ultimate redemption, mankind must recover its unity of race and tongue 
and become a brotherhood of one family of God's children. "America is 
the center of the history of the world today," he wrote; "to save this land 
to universal liberty and universal brotherhood, supported by universal law 

41 Quoted in Prentice, Gilbert Haven, p. 230; < pp. 219, 227-35. 
** Haven, National Sermons, pp. 340-42; c pp. 337-38. On the question of riches, 
sec, the same, p. 387; Prentice, G&bert Haven, p. 242; and earlier, pp. 156-57, 174-75. 



and sanctified by universal piety, Is to save all lands." 43 Though it re- 
quired "all our sons, all our treasure, all our generation" to destroy the 
enemies within and without, America would triumph. Then other nations 
would behold "the image of the transfigured Christ shining in our 
uplifted face/ 7 he exulted. "European caste and tyranny, tottering every- 
where to its downfall/* would speedily disappear. America would govern 
the earth, "not in the boastful spirit of national pride, but in the humble 
spirit of Christian love/* Only then should we be a member of "an equal, 
universal, happy family, the family of Christ." To such a goal, Haven 
concluded, the Methodist preachers must pledge themselves, purging out 
"all the old leaven of malice and wickedness" that they might become 
"a ne\v lump, sanctified and set apart for the Master s use." 44 

Haven's preaching, like William Hosmer's editorials, expressed the 
views of hundreds in whom revival fervor fused perfectionist ethics and 
millennial aspiration into a rationale for social reform. The war itself 
hastened this process. J. M. Sturtevant told Yale alumni that the prophetic 
"reign of peace on earth" was "not to be ushered in by leaving crime un- 
punished, and unoffending virtue unprotected, and giving up this present 
world to men of violence and blood, to tyrannize over it to their heart's 
content." Rather, he said, Christians must effect "such changes in the 
social, political, and moral condition of the world ... as shall render a long 
reign of justice possible/' Four years later even the conservative Lutheran 
quarterly displayed renewed interest in theocratic doctrines. 45 

Here, then, was a new kind of theocratic ideal, one which rested not so 
much on faith in God's ancient decrees as in his immediate involvement 
with the march of human events. God had come through the provi- 
dences of history as well as the outpouring of the Holy Ghost to dis- 
pense both mercy and judgment and cleanse America of its sin. The 
evangelists saw both majesty and mystery in his strange ways with men. The 
vision enabled them to break out of the bars of conservatism and other- 

48 Haven, National Sermons, pp. 349-50, 356, 358; cf., pp. 439-72, his Fast Day sermon 
for the next year called "The World War: Aristocracy and Democracy/' See also, 'The 
Church and the Negro," pp. 361-72, delivered before the Church Anti-Slavery Society at 
Tremont Temple, June 10, 1863. 

"IbicL, p. 359. 

* 5 Julian M. Sturtevant, TJie Lessors of Our National Conflict . . . (New Haven, 1861), 
p. 54; Robert D. Clark, Life of Matthew Simpson (New York, 1956), pp. 219 ff.; Henry 
Ziegler, "Politics in the Pulpit," The Evangelical Quarterly Review, XVI (1865), pp. 245- 
58; F. W. Conrad, "The Ministers of the Gospel, the Moral Watchmen of the Nations," 
the same, pp. 366-92. 



worldiness, of brotherly love and economic interest which so long had kept 
the American church from exerting its full strength in the slavery fight. 

In summary, the revivalists seem to have carried the brunt of the reli- 
gious attack upon the Negro's bondage. Especially after 1850, editors of 
denominational newspapers like Daniel Wise of Boston's Zions Herald, 
and George B. Cheever of The Independent, helped bring about an 
awakening of conscience in the cities then the focal points in the battle 
for men's minds. Albert Barnes, Gilbert Haven, Charles G. Finney, and 
scores of lesser men ably seconded them, though Phoebe Palmer's Immediate 
circle of Methodist perfectionists stood aloof from the controversy. The 
Awakening of 1858 appeared to contemporaries to deepen the national 
soul-searching and so pave the way to the election of Lincoln and the 
coming of the war. One important by-product of the long debate was that 
the evangelists adopted a liberal view of scriptural Interpretation, freeing 
the Bible from complicity with oppression. Another was the reinforcement 
of their conviction that Christ must be king of the nation's affairs, economic 
and political, as well as religious. 

That President Lincoln often employed language similar to that of 
Haven and Cheever is perhaps not so much proof that the preachers In- 
fluenced him as that both church and state were undergoing a profound 
crisis of conscience and conduct. Every moral, religious, and political Ideal 
of a free people was Imperiled, whether by peace or by war. The anguish of 
Antietam's field made this fact clear. Out of the fullness of national suf- 
fering came, for one brief moment, wholeness of understanding about the 
nature and meaning of the American way. As brothers fought to death, 
brotherhood sprang to life. Even the ponderous rhetoric of the revivalists 
could not hide its beauty nor dim its promise for a later day. 

Sadly, however, the demagoguery of the reconstruction era, In which 
many churchmen shared, revealed the tragic shallowness of the dedication 
which the conflict had summoned forth. What C. Vann Woodward has 
called the "reunion and reaction" of the 'seventies portended the return 
of the nation, like many a Methodist convert, to the slough of privilege and 

At the war's end a contributor to the promising young magazine, The 
Nation, wrote hopefully of "The One Humanity," in tones reminiscent of 
Gilbert Haven. God had placed before the country this question of race, 
he said. It was destined to be the stone of stumbling which should make or 
break "our Israel/' The aim of a Christian state, "its lofty ideal, Its divine 



mission," was "to help all the weak, to lift up all the fallen, to raise to the 

highest culture of which he is capable every son of Adam. . . ." 46 

After eighty years we stagger still at the promise. No wonder that 
historians appeared who denounced as idiocy a war which had settled so 


**TJje Nation, I (Oct. 26, 1865), pp. 520-21. Contrast the racial prejudice expressed 
in such antirevival writings as Philip Schaff, America . . . (New York, 1855), pp. viii-ix, 51, 
with the following: T. V. Moore, "Unity of the Human Race," The Methodist Quarterly 
Review, XXXffl (1851), p. 348; The Watchman and Reflector, Oct. 29, 1857, p. 2; "Back- 
man on the Unity of the Human Race," The Evangelical Quarterly Review, VII (1855), 
pp. 400-12; The American Missionary (Magazine), VI (1862), p. 106; Gasparin, Uprising, 
pp. 103-4, 205-7; and the opinions of Gilbert Haven described above. 



The Gospel of the Kingdom 

Much of the preceding discussion indicates that revivalism 
and perfectionism became socially volatile only when combined with the 
doctrine of Christ's imminent conquest of the earth. Edward Beecher's 
declaration of 1835, referred to earlier, is a case in point. The churches 
of America were "aroused as never before," he wrote in 1835, to the belief 
that "a glorious advent of the kingdom of God'* was near at hand. No 
longer did the conversion of the world seem the "distant vision of inspired 
prophets/' Christians were coming to see that their task was 

not merely to preach the gospel to every creature, but to reorganize human 
society in accordance with the law of God. To abolish all corruptions in religion 
and all abuses in the social system and, so far as it has been erected on false 
principles, to take it down and erect it anew. 1 

The attacks upon the evils of slavery, intemperance, pauperism, ignor- 
ance, and vice were, Beecher felt, portents of an "agitation of the whole 
community" destined to continue "till the heavens and the earth have been 
broken at the advent of God; till the last remnant of rebellion has passed 
away from the earth, and the human race shall repose in peace beneath 
the authority of Him whose right it is to reign." Characteristically, he 
spelled out in capital letters the concern which, though most important of 
all, he thought was being neglected; namely, "the immediate production 
of an elevated state of personal holiness throughout the universal church 
such a standard as God requires, and the present exigencies of the world 
demand." 2 

1 Edward Beecher, 'The Nature, Importance, and Means of Eminent Holiness Through- 
out the Church," The American National Preacher, X (1835), pp. 193-94. Robert Ellis 
Thompson, A History of the Presbyterian Churches in the United States (Philip Schaff 
and others, eds., The American Church History Series, VI, New York, 1895), pp. 129-31, 
long ago suggested, rather vaguely, the relationship of perfectionism and millennialism to 
the genesis of the social movement. Cf. John R. Bodo, The Protestant Clergy and Public 
Issues, 1812-2848 (Princeton, N. J., 1954), pp. 251-52, and C. C Cole, The Social Ideas 
of the Northern Evangelists, 1826-1860 (New York, 1954), pp. 232-33. 

* Beecher, Zoc. cit. See eadier, pp. 159-60. 



This theme was a keynote of both revival and reform propaganda for 
the next three decades. Samuel S. Schmucker appealed in 1839 for organic 
union of all Protestant bodies and the training of 25,000 missionaries in 
co-operative seminaries, on the ground that "the Son of God appears to 
be coming in his glory, conquering and to conquer the kingdoms of the 
earth." 3 Charles Adams, a member of the New England Methodist con- 
ference, cited the progress of Bible and tract societies and the commitment 
of all major denominations to the missionary cause as proof that the "out- 
spreading and triumph of the kingdom of God" was ushering in an era of 
"righteousness, peace, and happiness." Witnesses on all sides agreed with 
him that those who shared this hope were the pioneers and chief support of 
both home and foreign missions. 4 By the late 1850 J s prominent Baptist and 
Methodist journals preached church union as strongly as Schmucker had, 
appealing to the same millennial motivation and praying for the success 
of a similar evangelistic crusade. 5 

"A grand feature of our times is that all is Progress" exulted the editors 
of The Independent in 1851. Christianity and culture seemed to be march- 
ing together "onward and upward" toward the "grand consummation of 
prophecy in a civilized, an enlightened, and a sanctified world" and the 
establishment of "that spiritual kingdom which God has ordained shall 
triumph and endure." Their only worry was that "mere physical, social, 
and political development," the growth of "wealth and knowledge and 
liberty," should fill the horizon of human hopes. "Nay; what is the chaff to 
the wheat? Let it be a future of Holiness." 6 Three years later Philip 

4 Samuel Simon Schmuclcer, Fraternal Appeal to the American Churches, -with a Plan 
for Catholic Union, on Apostolic Principles (2nd. ed., New York, 1839), pp. 139-40. 
Cf. "Even so, Come, Lord Jesus/' The Christian Union and Religious Memorial, I (1848), 
p. 29; and James L. Batchelder, The United States, the West, and the State of Ohio, as 
Missionary Fields (Cincinnati, 1848), p. 84. 

* Charles Adams, Evangelism in the Middle of the Nineteenth Century . . . (Boston, 
1851), pp. 17, 27-29, 31. Cf. the review of a prize-winning essay by John A. Jameson, 
Responsibility of American Merchants for the Conversion of the World to Christ, in The 
Independent, Apr. 5, 1855; "History of Opinions Respecting the Millennium," The 
American Theological Review, I (1859), p. 655; and Oliver W. Elsbree, "The Rise of 
the Missionary Spirit in New England, 1790-1815," The New England Quarterly, I 
(1928), p. 318. 

B "That They All May Be One," The Watchman and Reflector, Apr. 16, 1857; "One- 
ness of the Faith and of the Knowledge of the Son of God," the same, Sept. 24, 1857; 
"Divine and Human Methods to Establish Unity in the Christian Church," the same, 
Oct. 1, 1857; William Nast, "The Berlin Conference of 1857," The Methodist Quarterly 
Review, XL (1858), p. 428. 

"The Coining Age," The Independent, Jan. 16, 1851. 



Schaff told a Berlin audience that the growing hold of Protestantism upon 
the American people made Christ's triumph sure. Their missions, he said, 
both to the uncivilized and "the nominal Christians of the Old World," and 
their colonization of Christianized slaves in Africa were hastening the day 
when the whole earth would be filled with his glory and "all nations walk 
in the light of eternal truth and love." 7 

The revival of 1858 greatly quickened all such hopes. It seemed, as one 
put it, "the careful preparation for some overwhelming manifestation* 5 in 
which the "Spirit's fire" would descend over all the land. 'The strong 
towers of sin shall fall, the glory of the Lord shall be displayed, and the 
millenial [sic] glory shall dawn upon the earth." Bishop Mcllvaine soberly 
admonished his Episcopal brethren to believe that in these last days a a 
work of the Spirit of God" would be done which would be to Pentecost 
what the harvest is to the first fruits of the garden. 8 'Who does not see," 
asked a Dutch Reformed pastor in Philadelphia, 

that, with the termination of injustice and oppression, of cruelty and deceit; with 
the establishment of righteousness in every statute book, and in every provision 
of human legislation and human jurisprudence; with art and science sanctified By 
the truth of God, and holiness to the Lord graven upon the walls of our high 
places, and the whole earth drinking in the rain of righteousness, . . . this 
world would be renovated by the power of holiness. . . . Oh! this is the reign of 
Jesus. 9 

The awakening convinced one traveler from Britain that "the transforma- 
tion of society into the kingdom of Christ" was to be the great work of 
the American churches. In the growth of the new nation, Isabella Bird 
Bishop believed she could 

trace the unhasting yet unresting progress of a kingdom ordained ere time 
began, to be completed when time shall be no more . . . when earth's monarchies 
shall be overthrown, and earth's republics shall bow before the sway of a 

'Philip Schaff, America . . . (New York, 1855), pp. 260, 265; cL pp. xvi-xvii 
* Y.M.C .A. Baltimore, Proceedings of ike All-Day Prayer Meeeting . . . September 27, 
1859 (Baltimore, 1859), pp. 10-11; Charles Pettit Mclivaine, Bishop Mcllvaine on the 
Revival of Religion (Philadelphia, 1858), p. 19. Note, however, that the volume, The New 
York Pulpit in the Revival of 1858 A Memorial Volume of Sermons (New York, 1858), 
contains no specific emphasis upon millennial aspiration. 

9 Joseph F. Berg, The Second Advent of Jesus Christ, Not PremUlennwt (Philadelphia, 
1859), pp. 125-26; see also, p. 157. 



despotic sceptre, and the crown of universal empire stall be placed upon the 
head of our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 

That William Miller s bizarre crusade to convince the nation that Christ 
would return in 1843 had not discredited millennialism is obvious. Nor 
should his movement be considered a sectarian protest against the abandon- 
ment of the doctrine by the churches, as a recent sympathetic study 
concludes. Rather, Miller appeared at the point when revival fires were 
bringing hopes for the Second Advent to feverish intensity. 11 The attitudes 
which evangelists like Jacob Knapp, Phoebe Palmer, and the Oberlin and 
Methodist preachers expressed toward Miller indicate that he gained ad* 
herents by advocating a sensational variant of the views they all preached. 
Prominent revivalists remained charitable to him even after the Lord's 
failure to appear at the appointed hour provoked general public derision and 
occasioned the strange legends about white-robed saints waiting in hilltop 
assemblies for the summons from above. 12 

As in the case of perfectionism, preoccupation with the erratic behavior 
of strange sects has obscured the wider scene. Actually the chief effect 
of the reaction from Millerism was to speed the adoption of a fervent 
postmillennialism, attuned to the prevailing optimism of the age. Preachers 
of all persuasions turned to the belief that their mission was to prepare the 
world for Christ's coming by reducing it to the lordship of his gospel. 13 

10 The Aspects of Religion in the United States . . . (London, 1859), pp. 188-89. 

11 Contrast Ira Brown, "Watchers for the Second Coining: the Millenarian Traction 
in America/' The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XXXIX (1952-53), p. 452, and 
Dixon Ryan Fox, Ideas in Motion (New York, 1935), pp. 110-20, with "The Coming 
of Christ," The Methodist Quarterly Review, XXIV (1842), pp. 352-78; George Duffield, 
Millenarianism Defended . , . (New York, 184:0; and Robert S. Fletcher, A History of 
Oberlin College, from Its Foundation Through the Civil War (Oberlin, 1943), I 3 pp. 222- 


11 See Jacob Knapp, Autobiography . . . (New York, 1868), pp. 144-45; Phoebe Palmer 
to William Mffler, Oct. 24, 1844, in Richard Wheatley, Phoebe Palmer . . . (New York, 
1876), pp. 512-13; the same, pp. 513, 514; Albert C. Johnson, Advent Christian History 
(Boston, 1918), prp. 112-14, 207, 214, suggesting the dose association of holiness 
adventists with Methodism and their use of the camp meeting method; and, especially, 
J. Litch, "The Rise and Progress of Adventism," The Advent Shield and Review, I 
(1844-45), pp. 60-73, 90-91. 

" Cf . Ralph H. Gabriel, The Course of American Democratic Thought; an Intellectual 
History Since 1815 (New York, 1940), pp. 34-37. For early examples of the reaction 
towards r^srmillennialism, see 'The Mfflenium [sic] of Revelation xx," The Methodist 
Quarterly Review, XXV (1843), pp. 83-110; "Milennial Traditions/ 1 the same, pp. 421- 
46; Adams, Evangelism, p. 17; David Brown, Christ's Second Coming. Will It Be Pre- 
MiMennial? (New York, 1851), a Baptist volume, and Thomas Wickes, An Exposition of 
the Apoadypse (New York, 1851), by a Congregational pastor in Marietta, Ohio. 



When, therefore, in 1844 Joshua Himes argued in The Advent SkieU and 
Review that the pope was antichrist and the conversion of the world im- 
possible until the Second Advent, he only made it less likely that the 
average minister, however conservative a Calvinist, would agree with 
him. 14 Old School Presbyterians, conservative Lutherans, and certain 
Princeton-educated Episcopalians were, in fact, highly embarrassed at being 
forced to choose between a view now widely tagged with the epithet, 
"chiliast," and one which lent itself to the support of theological and 
social liberalism. Not until the dark days preceding the Civil War, when a 
serious writer in The American Theological Review described Miller 
as simply "unwise enough to fix upon a time," did premillennialism again 
secure open espousal in respectable quarters. 15 

Two other factors, meanwhile, contributed to the surge of postmil- 
lennialism. The clergy's growing sense of social responsibility encouraged 
the identification of America's destiny with the Christian's hope. And their 
tendency toward practical Arminianism elicited from even Scottish and 
Puritan preachers a new reliance upon human measures to hasten the 
dawning day. 

The key question was whether those efforts should include social 
as well as spiritual action. One conservative writer, for example, agreed 
in 1859 that most American Protestants believed that "at some period, yet 
future, the influence of the Great Deceiver" would be restrained and the 
Spirit of God "remarkably poured out," bringing wars, injustice, oppression, 
and cruelty to an end. But like many other Old School Presbyterians, he 
was not willing to encourage "reformers" to work toward this goal, nor 
to identify the progress of liberal democratic culture with the triumph of 
Christianity. 16 The Independent, on the other hand, organ of revivalist 
and reforming Congregationalism in New York City, joined fervent hopes 
with equally fervent pleas for individuals to accept their responsibility to 
help usher in the Kingdom. 17 

Similarly, in a valedictory describing the relation between revivals and 

14 TJie Advent SUeld and Review, I (184445), pp. 89, 252, 264. 

11 "History of Opinions Respecting the Millennium," loc, dt. } pp. 654-55. 

18 Ibid. C. Lewis Gheeseman, Differences Between Old and New School Presbyterians 
. . . (Rochester, N. Y., 1848), pp. 166-67; Berg, The Second Advent, pp. 38, 116-19, 
125-26, 164; and Daniel P. Noyes, "The Church and the Churches/ 1 Eibliotheai Sacra, XX 
(1863), p. 364. Anon., The Revival System and the Paraclete. A Series of Articles from 
the Church Journal (New York, 1858), pp. 35-36, illustrates Episcopal premillennialism. 

17 "The Christian's Errand," The Independent, July 26, 1855; "Individual Responsi- 
bility," Aug. 23, 1855. 



progress written in 1859, the aging Albert Barnes declared himself "hopeful 
in regard to truth, to religion, to liberty, to the advancement of the race." 
The increase of the comforts of life and the progress of science (even 
geology) were, he believed, providential agents, along with the "great 

enterprises of Christian benevolence," in the "recovery and redemption of 
the race." 18 Edward Beecher also blew once more a trumpet call, as clear 
as any Walter Rauschenbusch later sounded, for the coronation of Christ 
as king. Because Jesus said his dominion is not of this world, Beecher 
wrote in 1865 in Bibliotheca Sacra , many had regarded civil government, 
commerce, the arts and sciences and education as in some sense secular, of 
necessity worldly and unsanctified. *Tet the very end for which the church 
was ordained," Beecher declared, is to make each of these institutions "a 
harmonious and consistent part of his kingdom." 19 

Not the vagaries of Adventists but the tragedy of civil war first shook 
the faith of American evangelicals in the triumph of this kingdom over 
personal and social evil. Most deeply affected were the Baptists, whose 
theological journal, The Christian Review, affords an index to one reaction- 
ary current of thought. In 1857 George B. Taylor's article mirrored the 
contemporary hopes for what he called a "social millennium." Arguing 
both from man's historic progress and the doctrine of God's sovereignty, 
Taylor declared the "cheering promise" of scripture to be that "a 
period of blessedness far exceeding the wildest dreams of poetic phrenzy" 
was soon to be humanity's lot. His optimism reached stellar proportions 
with the inclusion of possible unf alien inhabitants of other planets in the 
hoped-for future. 20 

After the attack on Fort Sumter, however, the editors confessed it had 
been mere self-flattery to suppose that America should "escape the dev- 
astating wars which have marked the fluctuating fortunes of European 
Empire/' or to think that "in a pathway of unbroken peace we should 
sweep forward into the cloudless splendors" of the millennial era. "Our 
visions," they mourned, "have been suddenly, rudely dispelled." Shortly 
thereafter two long articles made plain their abandonment of all hopes 

"Albert Barnes, Life at Tfjree-Score . . . (PMbdelpMa, 1859), p. 73; see also pp. 16-17, 
20, 33-35. 

** Edward Beecner, "The Scriptural Philosophy of Congregationalism and o Councils," 
B&Uatkeca Sacra, XXH (1865), pp. 238, 287-88. <X the Identical sentiment in Beriah 
Green to James G. Bixney, WHtesboro, N. Y., Apr. 6, 1852, quoted in Dwight L. 
Dumond, ed., Letters of James GiHes|ne Birney, 1831-1857 (New York, 1938), II, p. 1143. 

** George B. Taylor, "Society's Future/* The Christian Review?, XXII (1857), pp. 376- 
78, 380. 



for a golden age on earth. The first was a biblical attack on the pre- 
millennialist "chiiiasm" of the Adventists, differing from the usual only in 
the intensity of its emotion. Popular prepudice against Millerism was still 
strong enough to deter them from taking that historic path to pessimism. 
The second article appealed to both Augustine and the Scriptures to deny 
that Christ would ever personally rule on earth. He will return, perhaps 
soon, the author declared, but only to judge the sinners, destroy the world, 
and gather the elect to their eternal home. The same year two articles in 
the Lutheran theological journal covered exactly the same ground. 21 

Others of stanchly optimistic backgrounds endured similar heart search- 
ings. James I. T. Coolidge wrote a purely premillennialist essay for 
Frederic Dan Huntington's new Episcopal journal. The Congregational 
Quarterly avoided the theme altogether from 1860-67. The Baptist Watch- 
man and Reflector, hitherto a champion of liberal evangelicalism, saluted 
the year 1863 with the chastened assurance that "amid all the wars and 
rumors of wars" God reigned, dividing nations and dissolving states as 
"only a part of the eternal plan by which he will rum and overturn, until 
Jesus comes to reign, and the kingdoms of the earth shall be given to the 
saints of the most high." Meanwhile, Adventist sects flourished again in 
various sections of New England, feeding on despair. 22 

The trial which broke the faith of some, however, served only to sober 
and strengthen others. In an essay on the "moral results" of the war, pre- 
pared in 1864 to help publicize the United States Christian Commission, 
the Rev. Robert Patterson explained that, until the conflict, Christians 
had "never dreamed of the rough combat with the powers of darkness 
which an earnest effort to convert the world demands." American religion 
had acquired a "respectable burgess" character, he wrote, "fat, well clad in 
broad cloth, with gilt Bible, Gothic church and organ," while an "under- 

S1 "The National Crisis," the same, XXVI (1861), p . 492; J. T. Smith, "The First 
Resurrection and the Millennium, in Revelation XX: 1-6," the same, XXVII (1862), pp. 
445-46, 462; Heman Lincoln, "The Millennium of the Bible/ 1 the same, XXVffl (1863), 
pp. 131-40. Cf. "The New Heavens and The New Earth," Evangelical Quarterly Review, 
XII (1860-61), pp. 242-55, and G. Seyffarth, "Chiiiasm, Critically Examined, According to 
the Statements of the New and Old Testaments, with Reference to the Most Recent 
Theory of the Millennium," the same, pp. 341-401. Somewhat earlier appeared the first 
work of the man who was to become the foremost Lutheran expositor of premillennialism: 
J. A. Seiss, The Last Times: an Earnest Discussion of Momentous Themes (Baltimore, 

M J. I. T. Coolidge, "Looking for the Advent," The Church Monthly, HI (January- 
June, 1862), pp. 2-3; The Watchman anci Reflector, Jan. 1 and March 5, 1863; Johnson, 
Advent Christian History, pp. 207, 214. 



ground class" it did not touch grew steadily larger in the great cities. What 
the churches needed was the kind of revival sweeping the army, one 
which would consider the social as well as the spiritual needs of men. 
Only thus could they prepare America for the 'last great struggle between 
freedom and slavery, truth and error," for which the Lord was mustering 
the nations of the earth: 

We are entering, fellow-citizens, upon a period foretold by prophets of old 
. . . , a period of the overthrow of despotism, and the down-fall of anti- 

Arise, then, Christians of America, and gird yourselves for this great under- 
taking. . . . Let every prayer meeting in the land wrestle with God for a revival, 
and we shall see such an outpouring of the Spirit as will convert the army, 
revive the church, and regenerate the nation. 23 

'The new year will ... be a momentous one/' wrote the editor of the 
antislavery American Missionary Association's monthly in January, 1862, 
one in which every child of God and 'lover of his race" must hold "himself, 
and all that he has, consecrated unreservedly to the Master's service, to 
be used, as lie sees fit, for the establishment of his Kingdom of peace and 
righteousness in our land and throughout the earth." 24 

Such a blending of the sense of impending judgment with millennial 
ardor and social realism was characteristic in wartime revival appeals. 25 
An awakened generation learned at Fredericksburg and Antietam a new 
understanding of "the glory of the coming of the Lord." Julia Ward Howe 
set it to unforgettable words and music, in her famous "Battle Hymn/' 
Christ the king was the scourge of sin. He was sifting out the hearts of men 
before his judgment seat The wine of peace was to flow blood red from 
the sword of his wrath. 

Contrary to the view that the holiness movement represented a flight 
from temporal realities, most of its leaders held optimistic views of a 
temporal millennium and of the necessity of social action to achieve it. 
Thomas C. Upham and Bishop Leonidas L. Hamline rejoiced in 1846, as 

" Christ in the Army, a Selection of Sketches of the Work of The U. S. Christian 
Commission (PMadelpliIa, 1865), pp. 135, 139-41. 

**The American Missionary (Magazine), VI (1862), p. 10. Cf. the similar sentiment 
with which E. R Gillett closed his History of the Presbyterian Church in the United 
States of America CPiiikdelptia, 1864), H, 571, 573. 

TO*Vh5,f* ^"SSfe ^T Stembcr & "Reveals," The Evangelical Quarterly Review, 
XV (1864), pp. 286-87; John E. Todd, Revivals of Religion . . . (Boston, 1866), p. 4. 



had Professor John Morgan of Oberlin the year before, that the rapid 
spread of the experience of sanctification marked the beginning of the last 
dispensation, in which the gospel would conquer the world. "Behold here 
the dominion of the Holy Ghost, the triumph of the Millenium [sic], 
the reign of holy love!" 26 William Hosmer, leading writer in the Genesee 
Methodist Conference holiness revival, declared in 1852 that the business 
of ministers was "to proclaim the Higher Law, and the Higher Law as 
paramount to all other laws." They were "heralds of the kingdom of 
God, and when that kingdom is condemned, they must appear in its 
defense, or Christ is betrayed in the house of his friends/* 2T Leading Meth- 
odist journals meanwhile rejected the premillennialist denial of the possi- 
bility of the world's conversion and called for "a higher, holier standard of 
piety" to hasten it. 28 In a camp-meeting sermon preached about the time 
of the second battle at Bull Run, George Peck declared that the coming 
reign of Jesus required every minister to testify against wickedness where- 
ever found, including "the vices of trade, the vices of the professions, and 
the vices of politics." 29 

At the close of the war Jesse Peck published a lengthy religious inter- 
pretation of the history of the United States. Its basic assumptions were 
that God was the actual soverign of all nations, that his purpose "to ad- 
vance the human race beyond all its precedents in intelligence, goodness, 
and power" formed the American republic, and that the Christian reli- 
gion was the "life force and organizing power" by which he was building a 
community of holy men and holy institutions made perfect through his 
sanctifying will. 30 Bishop Matthew Simpson and John C. McClintock, both 
of whom were moving closer to the "second blessing" leaders, preached 
Methodist Centenary sermons in 1866 which were filled with millennial 

2<J Upham, Life ... of Madame de la Mothe Guyon . . . (New York, 1874), H, p. 56. Of. 
Leonidas L. Hamline, The Works of Rev. Leonidas JL Hamline, D.D. (F. G. Hibbard, 
ed., New York, 1871), H, 356-59, 445-52; and John Morgan, "The Gift of the Holy 
Ghost," The Oberlm Quarterly Review, I (1845), pp. 115-16. 

87 William Hosmer, The Higher Law . . . (Auburn, N. Y., 1852), p. v. 

88 "The Great Want of the Times," Zion's Herald, Nov. 15, 1854; 'The World's 
Conversion a Practicable Idea," the same, Nov. 22, 1854; James Nichols, "Tendency of 
Current Events in the Moral and Material World," The Methodist Quarterly Review, 
XXXIV (1852), pp. 82-85; "The Signs of the Times," the same, XXXV (1853), pp. 440, 
44344; William Nast, 'The Berlin Conference of 1857," the same, XL (1858), p. 428. 

89 George O. Peck, "The Signs of the Times," in Our Country: Its Trial and Its 
Triumph . . . (New York, 1865), pp. 36, 38. 

The History of the Great RepubUc . . . (New York, 1868), pp. viii, 513, 704-8. 



expectation. "Another hundred years/' cried Simpson in a dramatic climax, 

the earth shall stand In beauty and glory; a hundred years and the banner of 
the cross shall shine triumphant over every mountain top and every valley, and 
the islands of the sea shall give their treasures to Immanuel; a hundred years 

and they will be singing in heaven and throughout the earth: "Hallelujah! The 

Lord God omnipotent reigneth." 

Let Methodists make this year, he exhorted, one of heart searching, "a 
year of pure consecration," and of "wide catholic feeling" for all Chris- 
tians, Let them show their movement to be not only "the power of God in 
the salvation of sinners," but "the love of God for all Christians and for all 
classes the power of Christ in human form." 31 

Outside Methodist ranks, the same spirit prevailed. Though Baptists 
who promoted sanctification were affected by their denomination's swing 
toward pessimism, some of them dared during the war to identify perfect 
love with pacifism while others carried the idea of consecration of property 
into the most radical millennial idealism. 32 When the Union victory freed 
William E. Boardman from the Christian Commission, he set to work as a 
Fulltime evangelist, preaching a conquering, overcoming gospel one which 
would master sin in society even as it destroyed it in individuals. "No other 
question," he wrote in 1869, 'looms up before the thoughtful Christian 
mind in the immediate future with such grandeur as this of the conversion 
of the industrial, commercial, political, educational, and social interests of 
the world to Christ." 33 

Boardman's program, to be sure, was as naive as his aims were high. It 
called for Christians to go into business and industry with faith and 
prayer, to "push the competition upon the principles of truth and right- 
eousness," and thus drive to the wall a the servants of the devil and all their 
corrupt and selfish practices." This, he cried, "would be the beginning 
of the end for the millennial triumph." The significant point is, however, 

91 Quoted &om Pittsburgh Christum Advocate, Apr. 21, 1866, in Wallace Guy Smdtzer, 
Methodism on the Headwaters of the Ohio . . . (Nashville, 1951), pp. 234-35; McClintock's 
sermon is quoted earlier, p, 137, Cf. an identical sentiment in Hemy B. Ridgaway, The 
life of Rev. Alfred Cookman . . . (New York, 1874), pp. 354-59. 

" See James Morrison, "The Coming o Christ," The Christian, I (1863), pp. 164-65; 
Cf. "H.P.B.," Brooklyn, N. Y., Sept. 16, 1863, to John Q. Adams, the same, pp. 171-72; 
"Shall Christians Fight," the same, H (1864), pp. 61-64, 

** William Edwin Boardman, He That Overcometh . . . (Boston, 1869), p. 232. 



that, like the other holiness preachers, Boardman refused to consign secular 
relations to Satan. Though for him the kingdom of Christ was spiritual, he 
believed that it must rule the temporal world, not shun it. Happily, its 
embattled hosts seemed in his eyes destined to enjoy the worldly spoils of 
their heavenly conquest. 84 

In the postwar period the evangelical ideology of the millennium merged 
without a break into what came to be called the social gospel. The triumph 
of Yankee arms restored the faith of even Princeton conservatives that 
Christianity and civilization were marching forward toward perfection. 35 
Gilbert Haven, who had been Methodism's most notable abolitionist, pre- 
dicted that the grace of Christ would "renew the land in holiness and love," 
halt the sale of alcoholic beverages, end the 'luxurious absorption by a few 
families of the people's wealth," spread universal education, and establish 
economic security for all. Later, in a Thanksgiving sermon celebrating, 
ironically enough, the election of Ulysses S. Grant to the presidency, 
Haven urged Methodists to make their lives an offering by which to speed 
the achievement of social equality, racial intermarriage, woman's suffrage, 
temperance reform, and other beauties of the millennium. 

Let Christ abolish sin from your souls, of whatever sort, by His indwelling 
grace. Let your heart become His peaceful realm, with its every passion, thought, 
and purpose subject to His sway. Labor by every word and deed to make 
all other hearts equally perfect. Strive to bring the laws of society into subjection 
to His control. Root up die gnarled tusks of prejudice. Toil cheerfully, hope- 
fully, faithfully, to bring in the Grand Sabbatic Year, the Jubilee of Heaven. 38 

Six years later an article in Yale's New Englander restated the case for 
postmillennialism in evolutionary terms, referring not to Darwin, however, 
but to Christ's parable of the mustard seed. The Rev. George T. Ladd 
argued that premillennialism contradicts the facts of human progress and 
"degrades the Gospel as a present and prospective power." He believed that 
it tends to let down the tone of the Christian life and to discourage ministers 
from feeling that they are working "for the Ages" and "for the race." 

* Ibid., pp. 208-9, 233; the. "gospel of success" is underlined on pp. 231-32, 234. 

"L. P. Hickok, "Humanity Progressing to Perfection," The American Presbyterian 
and Theological Review, n s., VI (1868), pp. 532, 550. Cf. tlie first article on die subject 
for many years in The Congregational Quarterly: J. Torrey Smith, "The Second Advent 
of Our Lord," VII (1867), pp. 195-214, reviewing favorably Brown, Christ's Second 
Coming, wMch had just been reissued in a Glasgow edition. 

M Gilbert Haven, National Sermons . . . (Boston, 1869), pp. 387, 601-2, 629-30. 



Christ's teaching, Ladd said, is far grander. It promises the evolution of the 
Kingdom, not through "a godless and aimless development/' tut by means 
of an "expanding of forces and powers already planted by God within the 
world as seeds." Under the "constant rule and presence of Christ" and the 
"constant working of the Holy Spirit," these were ultimately to accomplish 
"the conversion and sanctifying of the world." 8T 

A public meeting of the Christian Labor Union, held in Boston in 
May, 1875, put the matter more bluntly. The "God of the Bible," its 
resolution ran, had set forth in that book a twofold plan of redemption one 
part "to cure men in their innate tendency to evil" and the other "to 
establish in the earth that divine order and conduct of human society which 
Jesus Christ called the Kingdom of God." 8S 

The most significant miUlenarian doctrines of the mid-nineteenth century 
were not those of William Miller, but those which grew out of evangelical 
Protestantism's crusade to Christianize the land. Revivalistic Calvinists like 
Edward and Henry Ward Beecher and Albert Barnes, Oberlin perfec- 
tionists, and Methodists great and small were ardent postmillennialists, 
bent like John the Baptist on preparing a kingdom for the King. Social 
reforms of all sorts fit into their scheme. The chief result of the Millerite 
excitement seems to have been to hasten the acceptance of this doctrine 
among Baptists and Presbyterians previously attached to the premillennial 
view. That clergymen identified the popular belief in America's mission 
with the Christian hope and drifted steadily toward Arminianism, with 
its emphasis upon free will and human ability, strengthened the trend. 

True, Old School Calvinists who feared antislavery agitation spawned 
on the eve of the sectional conflict an antimillennial variant of the beliefs 
which Miller's demise had discredited. The carnage of war shrouded cer- 
tain Baptist and Lutheran groups in such pessimism as to encourage its 
growth. By and large, however, the peace of 1865 found leaders of the 
revivalistic sects consecrated to the task of building a Christian common- 
wealth in America. The trial by arms had served only to imbue them with 
a new sense of the reality of divine judgment and the stubbornness of the 
evils which they faced. 

* T George T. Ladd, "What Is the True Doctrine of Christ's Second Coming/* The New 
Engender, XXXIH (1874), pp. 369, 377-79, 381-83. 

** Quoted from Equity, June, 1875, pp. 17-18, in Aaron L Abell, The Urban Impact on 
American Protestantism, 1 865- 1 900, (Harvard Historical Studies, UV, Cambridge, 1943) 
p. 24, C. Charles H. HopMns, The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism, 
1865-1913 (New Haven, 1940), pp. 42-49, and Edward H. Rogers, National Life in the 
Spirit World (Chelsea, Mass., 1891), pp. 2, 9-11, 64. 



Not Darwinian philosophy or the new sociology but the nearness men 
felt to God in the mid-century awakenings catalyzed the Kingdom ideology 
whose elements Edward Beecher had weighed out in 1835. In these 'last 
days" God had poured out his Spirit on all flesh. Sons and daughters 
prophesied. Old men dreamed dreams and young men saw visions. And 
they all worked in a fury of passion lest the "great and terrible day of His 
wrath" should overtake them unprepared. 



Modern Scholarly Works 

Two volumes have recently appeared which converge on the sub- 
ject of this research from different angles. Charles C. Cole, Jr., The Social Ideas of 
the Northern Evangelists, 1826-1860 (New York, 1954) covers adequately the 
opinions of a rather diverse group of individual leaders, but not their relations to 
the movements in church life which they represent. John R. Bodo, The Protestant 
Clergy and Public Issues, 1812-1848 (Princeton, N. J., 1954) is misnamed, since 
it considers only those educated ministers of New England and the Middle Atlantic 
states who supported the idea of an American theocracy. Both volumes shed light 
on the interrelation of church and society during the period. 

Other studies of established reputation are Aaron Ignatius Abell, The Urban 
Impact on American Protestantism, 1865-1900 (^Harvard Historical Studies, LIV, 
Cambridge, 1943), which attributes the socialization of religious institutions to the 
new urban environment; and Alice Felt Tyler, Freedom's Ferment; Phases of Ameri- 
can Social History to I860 (Minneapolis, 1944), which explains spiritual and 
social factors in the movements for humanitarian reform. Whitney Rogers Cross, 
The Burned-over District; the Social and Intellectual History of Enthusiastic Religion 
in Western New York, 1800-1850 (Ithaca, N. Y., 1950) is an admirable regional 
study, marred only by unawareness of the extent of "enthusiasm" in seaboard cities. 
Charles Howard Hopkins, History of the YM.C.A. in North America (New York, 
1951) meticulously commemorates an institution in which interdenominational 
revivalism was dominant. 

The quest for holiness is illumined in Robert S. Fletcher, A History of Oherlin 
College; from Its Foundation Through the Civil War (Oberlrn, Ohio, 1943), 
originally a Harvard dissertation, and John Leland Peters, Christian Perfection and 
American Methodism (New York and Nashvile, 1956), begun at Yale. Neither 
these two works, however, nor the much older collection o essays by the doui 
Princetonian, Benjamin B. Warfield, Perfectionism. (New York, 1931), uncover the 
social dynamics of the movement. For background the beginner cannot do better 
than to consult Harold Lindstrom, Wesley and Sanctification, a Study in the Doc- 
trine of Salvation (Stockholm, 1946) and, on social issues, Wellman Joel Warner, 



The Wesleyan Movement in the Industrial Revolution (London, 1930), the latter 
by a student of R. H. Tawney. 

Gilbert H. Barnes, The Antislavery Impulse, 1830-1844 (N. Y., 1933), and 
Dwight L. Dumond, Antislavery Origins of the Civil War in the United States 
(Ann Arbor, Mich., 1939), explore in great detail earlier phases of the evan- 
gelical attack on slavery. Benjamin Platt Thomas, Theodore Weld, Crusader for 
Freedom (New Brunswick, N. J., 1950), and the volumes of the James G. Bimey 
and Weld-Grimke correspondence which Dumond and Barnes edited, fill out the 
story. Cole's chapter in The Northern Evangelists and George I. Rockwood, Cheever, 
Lincoln and the Causes of the Civil War (Worcester, Mass., 1936), provide stimu- 
lating insights into the later agitation. The proslavery argument is analyzed, though 
without much reference to the inner life of the churches, in William Sunnier Jenkins, 
Pro-Slavery Thought in the Old South (Chapel Hill, N. C., 1935), and, more 
sketchily, in Adelaide Avery Lyons, "Religious Defense of Slavery in the North" 
(Trinity College Historical Society, Historical Papers, ser. 13, Durham, N. C., 1919). 

The best treatment of a particular denomination is Thomas E. Drake, Quakers and 
Slavery in America (New Haven, Conn., 1950). Lewis G. Vander Velde, The 
Presbyterian Churches and the Federal Union, 1861-1869 (^Harvard Historical 
Studies, XXXIII, Cambridge, 1932), is superficial on dextrine, while Charles W. 
Heathcote, The Lutheran Church and the Civil War (New York, 1919), is based 
on incomplete research. Neither William Warren Sweet's filial The Methodist 
Episcopal Church and the Civil War (Cincinnati, 1912) nor Charles Baumer 
Swaney's rather cynical Episcopal Methodism and Slavery; with Sidelights on 
Ecclesiastical Politics (Boston, 1926) display much understanding of the relation 
of Wesleyan religion to reform. Outstanding articles are C. Bruce Staiger, "Aboli- 
tionism and the Presbyterian Schism of 1837-1838," The Mississippi Valley Historical 
Review, XXVI (1949-50), 391-414; Robert Fortenbaugh, "American Lutheran 
Synods and Slavery, 1830-1860," The Journal of Religion, XIII (1933), 72-92. 

Most denominational histories written during the past fifty years underplay or 
omit altogether the story o revivalist and perfectionist strivings. Exceptions are those 
treating smaller sects, such as Wilson T. Hogue's rather unscholarly History of the 
free Methodist Church of North America (Chicago, 1915) and Raymond W. Al- 
bright's fine History of the Evangelical Church (Harrisburg, Pa., 1942). Wade 
Crawford Barclay, To Reform the Nation (vol. II of Early American Methodism, 
1769-1844, New York, 1949), part of a projected multi-volume work on our chief 
Protestant denomination, bids fair to reverse the trend for the larger groups. Barclay 
pays due attention to holiness piety and relates it to the social scene. William Wilson 
Manross, A History of the American Episcopal Church (2nd. ed., rev., New York, 
1950), slights the Low Church evangelicals. Oscar N. Olson, The Augustana 
Lutheran Church in America: Pioneer Period, 1846-1860 (Rock Island, 11., 1950), 
disowns revivalism. 

General Contemporary Materials 

European travelers made stimulating observations about every facet of American 
church life, following the lead of Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America 



(tr. Henry Reeve; rev. ed. New York, 1900). Most useful for the later period are 
two volumes by Isabella (Bird) Bishop, The Aspects of Religion in the United States 
of America (London, 1859), covering especially the revival of 1858 and the sectional 
crisis, and The Englishwoman in America (London, 1856). Three French evangeli- 
cal pastors recorded impressions particularly valuable for denominations in the 
Calvinist tradition: J. H. Grand Pierre, A Parisian Pastor's Glance at America 
(Boston, 1854), Agdnor tienne de Gasparin, The Uprising of a Great People. The 
United States in 1861 (tr. Mary L. Booth; New York, 1861), and Georges Fisch, 
Nine Months in the United States During the Crisis (London, 1863). James Dixon, 
Personal Narrative of a Tour Through a Part of the United States and Canada, 
with Notices of Methodism in America (New York, 1849), is a panorama of Meth- 

Even more enlightening are the efforts Americans made to explain GUI religious 
institutions to churchmen in the Old World. Robert Bakd's three volumes, View of 
Religion in America (New York, 1844), The Progress and Prospects of Christianity 
in the United States . . . (London, 1851), and State and Prospects of Religion in 
America (London, 1855), reflect the efforts of a New School preacher to allay Eu- 
ropean prejudices against revivals and the voluntary system of church membership 
and support. Baird was one of the chief architects of the Evangelical Alliance. 
Alexander Blaikie, The Philosophy of Sectarianism; or, a Classified View of the 
Christian Sects in the United States . . . (Boston, 1854), takes the opposite view, 
as does Philip Schaff, America. A Sketch of the Political, Social, and Religious Char- 
octet of the United States of North America (New York, 1855). SchafFs work is a 
partisan deprecation of the pietist and revivalist practices which had invaded Lutheran 
and German Reformed churches. 

Handbooks explaining the nature and work of all the different denominations 
were popular then, as now. They yield valuable statistics and lists of publications 
and educational institutions. Most useful are The American Christian Record . 
(New York, I860), and two reflecting a Methodist point of view Charles Adams, 
Evangelism in the Middle of the Nineteenth Century . . . (Boston, 1851), and 
Charles C. Goss, Statistical History of the First Century of American Methodism . . . 
(New York, 1866). Joseph Belcher, The Religious Denominations in the United 
States, their History, Doctrine, Government, and Statistics (Philadelphia, 1856), is a 
Baptist pastor's careful summary which usually gives the sources of its statistics. 

All of the foregoing contain information on revivals of religion and the relation 
of the sects to state and society. On the latter point, however, Stephen Colwell, The 
Position of Christianity in the United States (Philadelphia, 1854), is uniquely im- 
portant Albert Barnes, The Gospel Necessary to Our Country (Washington, 1852), 
and works by two Methodists, William Henry Milburn, The Rifle, Axe, and Saddle- 
Bags . . . (New York, 1856), and Jesse T. Peck, The History of the Great Republic, 
Considered from the Christian Stand-Point (New York, 1868), contain more propa- 
ganda than analysis. 

General accounts of religious awakenings in the period appear in P. C. Headley, 
Evangelists in the Church. Philip, A. D., 35, to Moody and Sankey, A D., 1875 



(Boston, 1875), biographical essays based on contemporary sources now rarely avail- 
able; and Heman Humphrey, Revival Sketches and Manual (New York, 1859). 
A. P. Marvin, 'Three Eras of Revivals in the United States," EiUiotheca Sacra, XVI 
(1859), 279-301, covers mostly earlier periods. Martin Moore, Boston Revival, 1842 
. . . (Boston, 1842) is superficial. For the awakening of 1858, however, abundant 
materials may be found in William C. Conant, Narratives of Remarkable Conver- 
sions and Revival Incidents . . . (New York, 1858), an uncritical summary of news- 
paper reports printed at the height of the excitement; Talbot W. Chambers, The 
Noon Prayer Meeting of the North Dutch Church, Fulton Street, New York . . . 
(New York, 1858), an indispensable inside account of the awakening's origin; and 
Samuel L Prime, The Power of Prayer, as Illustrated in the Wonderful Displays 
of Divine Grace in the Fulton Street and Other Meetings . . . (New York, 1859), 
which charts its course both in and outside New York City. 

Religious enthusiasm in wartime found many chroniclers. Samuel I. Prime, Five 
Years of Prayer, With the Answers (New York, 1864), covers the home front, while 
Christ in the Army: a Selection of Sketches of the Work of the U. S. Christian Com- 
mission (Philadelphia, 1865), and J. William Jones, Christ in the Camp; or, Religion 
in Lee's Army (Richmond, 1887), recount the events in the armed forces. 

Contemporary Descriptions of Particular Denominations 

Abel Stevens, History of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States 
(New York, 1864-1867) and E. H. Gillett, History of the Presbyterian Church in 
the United States of America (Philadelphia, 1864) are in many ways still the best 
accounts of those two denominations, though Stevens is skimpy on the years covered 
by this study while Gillett is complete. Two of the volumes in The American 
Church History Series, edited by Philip schaff and others toward the end of the 
century, deserve special mention both for their scholarly merit and for the fact that 
they were written from distant memory of the events of the prewar period. These 
are Henry Eyster Jacobs, A History of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the 
United States (New York, 1893) and Albert Henry Newman, A History of the 
Baptist Churches in the United States (New York, 1894). Charles C. Tiffany, A 
History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (New 
York, 1895), in the same series, is more generous toward the Low Church party 
than the volume by W. W. Manross mentioned above. 

Invaluable mines of information also are Samuel S. Schmucker, The American 
Lutheran Church ... (5th ed., Philadelphia, 1852), which defends the revivalist 
position dominant in the General Synod; Elisha Bates, The Doctrines of friends . . . 
(Philadelphia, 1868), the platform of the evangelical party; George Ellis, Half- 
Century of the Unitarian Controversy (Boston, 1857), explaining the beliefs of the 
moderate majority which opposed Theodore Parker, Lewis Cheeseman, Differences Be- 
tween Old and New School Presbyterians (Rochester, R Y., 1848), which reflects 
the accommodation of the Old School to revival measures in the "burned-over" 
district; and Matthew Simpson, ed., Cyclopedia of Methodism . . . (Philadelphia, 
1 878). Of the dozens of Methodist conference histories, R W. Conable, History of 



the Genesee Annual Conference . . . (New York, 1876), is important for its bitterly 
prejudiced account of Free Methodist origins. 

Among the useful periodical articles are Francis Springer, "Lutheranisin in the 
United States," The Evangelical Quarterly Review, XI (1859-60), 96-110, and 
anon., 'The Present Position of the Lutheran Church," on pp. 12-43 of the same 
volume. The former supported the "New Lutheran," the latter, the confessional 
position. Henry Cowles, "Ohio Congregationalism," The Congregational Quarterly, 
V (1863-64), 136-43, portrays Oberiin's early withdrawal from the Plan of 
Union. William Hurlin, "The Freewill Baptists; Their History and Doctrines," The 
Christian Review, XXVII (1862), 556-84, is an excellent short summary. 
Andover's quarterly journal, BiUiotheca Sacra, printed during the war a series of 
articles on theology. George Duffield, "Doctrines of the New School Presbyterian 
Church," XX (1863), 606-15, is more conservative than the pattern prevailing 
in his denomination; while Daniel D. Whedon, "The Doctrines of Methodism," 
XIX (1862), 241-73, is more liberal. 

Church Periodicals 

The learned theological reviews, usually published quarterly, are the most ac- 
cessible but the least useful of the religious serials. However, when studied with 
due reference to the biographical and historical material available elsewhere, they 
reveal the adjustment of the most conservative thought of the churches to changing 
times. The chief limitation is that most of their contents were long book reviews. 
The Methodist Quarterly Review (XXIII-XLVHI, New York, 1841-66) was sur- 
prisingly friendly to the holiness advocates. The Lutheran Evangelical Quarterly Re- 
view (VII-XVI, Gettysburg, Penn., 1856-65) refereed the truce between the revival- 
ist and confessional parties. The Christian Review (XX-XXVII, Boston, 1855-56, 
New York, 1857-62), the Baptist organ, maintained the antirevival, Calvinist 

Congregationalist and Presbyterian journals must be classified along doctrinal lines. 
Liberal and friendly to humanitarian endeavors, if not always to revivalism, were 
Andover's EiUiotheca Sacra (I-XXH, Andover, Mass. 1844-64) and Yale's The New 
Englander (I-XXI, New Haven, Conn., 1843-63). The Congregational Quarterly 
(I-VH, Boston, 1859-65) and The Oberlin Quarterly Review (I-IV, Oberlin, Ohio, 
1845-49) defended both evangelism and reform. The latter championed perfec- 
tionism and the former encouraged the growth of sectarian sentiment in the denomi- 
nation. On the other hand, The Boston Review: Devoted to Theology and Litera- 
ture (I-VI, Boston, 1861-66) and The American Theological Review (I-VI, New 
York, 1859-64) depicted the conservative reaction against "new measures" and 
social reconstruction, a position which The Princeton Review (XIII-XXIV, Princeton, 
N. J., 1841-62) had maintained for two decades. 

Monthly magazines came one step nearer the march of events. Though useful for 
their book reviews, they mainly contained signed articles on religious and social 
questions. The American National Preacher (X-XV, Philadelphia, 1836-41) was 
a highly significant outlet for New School opinion during the years of controversy. 
The Christian Union and Religious Memorial . . . (Mil, New York, 1848-50), 



edited by Robert Baird, worked for interdenominational alliance; and The Ameri- 
can Missionary (^Magazine) (IV-IX, New York, 1858-63) promoted the work of the 
antislavery American Missionary Association. All of these were ostensibly inter- 
denominational and promoted revivals and humanitarian reform. Harper's New 
Monthly Magazine (VII-XX, New York, 1853-60), though not ecclesiastically 
sponsored, reflected a conservative Methodist viewpoint on social issues. 

More limited in appeal were those monthlies representing one movement. 
Frederic Dan Huntington's The Monthly Religious Magazine (IX-XXVI, Boston, 
1853-61) is a neglected source of information about moderate Unitarianism. After 
Huntington entered the Low Church Episcopal ministry, he edited The Church 
Monthly (I-III, Boston, 1861-63). The Guide to Holiness (I-L, Boston, 1839-63) 
was the voice of the Methodist "second blessing" advocates; The Christian; Devoted 
to the Advancement of Gospel Holiness (I-VI, New York, 1863-68) furthered the 
higher-life doctrine among Baptists. The Advent Shield and Review (I, Boston, 
1844-45), an ephemeral Millerite publication, contains invaluable first-hand ac- 
counts of Adventist origins. 

The denominational weekly newspapers are, however, the best source for reli- 
gious opinion on social and political matters and accounts of revivals and humanitar- 
ian projects. Among the more than one hundred such publications, I have chosen 
to work through the following representative ones. The Christian Advocate and 
Journal (New York, 1850-60), the principal Methodist weekly, was often silent on 
social issues, as contrasted with most others of the denomination, especially Zion's 
Herald (Boston, 1850-61). The New York Evangelist (New York, 1848-54), organ 
of New School Presbyterians, was likewise more conservative than the Congrega- 
tionalist Independent (New York, 1848-59), edited by Henry Ward Beecher, Joseph 
P. Thompson, and George B. Cheever. The Old School New York Observer sup- 
ported Princeton and proslavery compromise. In Boston The Watchman and Re- 
flector (1853-63) reflected Baptist revivalism and social concern, as The Congregar 
tionalist (Boston, 1851-61) did for a sister denomination. The Puritan Recorder 
(Boston, 1851-61), welcomed revivals but not reform and endeavored to keep alive 
among Congregationalists the older Calvinism. 

Biographical and Devotional Literature 

Most nineteenth-century volumes of 'lives and letters" carried lengthy quota- 
tions from diaries and correspondence. The shorter and more literary biographies 
which came into vogue after the Civil War were rarely annotated and are con- 
sequently of less value to the historian. Those of most general usefulness are Charles 
G. Finney, Memoirs (New York, 1876), a remarkably objective chronicle based 
upon his journals and other writings; Henry Martyn Baird, Life of the Rev. Robert 
Baird, D.D. (New York, 1866), a scholarly tribute to the causes of temperance re- 
form and ecumenicity; David O. Mears, Life of Edward N orris Kirk (Boston, 1877), 
which quotes inaccessible documents at length; Arria S. Huntington, Memoir and 
Letters of Frederic Dan Huntington . . . (Boston, 1906), an accurate introduction 
to evangelical Unitarianism; and Richard Wheadey, The Life and Letters of Mrs. 



Phoebe Palmer (New York, 1876), a lengthy index to die wide impact of per- 

Among indispensable biographies of holiness leaders are five written about Meth- 
odists: Abel Stevens, Life and Times of Nathan Bangs, D.D. (New York, 1863), 
both comprehensive and partial; R G. Hibbard, Biography of Rev. Leonidas L. 
Hamline . . . (Cincinnati, 1880), to be compared with Dr. Walter C. Palmer's life 
of the same man, published in New York in 1880; Henry B. Ridgaway, Life of 
Alfred Cookman . . . (New York, 1874), the most thorough and objective of the 
group; George Hughes, The Beloved Physician, Walter C. Palmer . . . (New York, 
1884), which is studded with material from the manuscripts of the illustrious 
Phoebe's husband; and Lucius C. Matlack, The Life of Rev. Orange Scott . . . (New 
York, 1847), important for its record of Wesleyan Methodist abolitionism. Mary 
M. Boardman (Mrs. William E.), Life and Labours of Rev. W. E. Board-man 
(New York, 1887) traces the "higher-life" movement outside the Methodist fold in 
England and America, while Absalom B. Earle's autobiography, Bringing in 
Sheaves (Boston, 1868) discloses the perfectionism of the Baptist movement's most 
famous wartime soul winner. 

Samples of other evangelists' stories are Emerson Andrews, Living Life 
(Boston, 1872), and Jacob Knapp, Autobiography . . . (New York, 1868), which 
depict the triumph of revivalism in the Baptist denomination; Helen Dunn Gates, 
Life and Labors of Rev. Ransom Dunn . . . (Boston, 1901), about an urban 
Freewill Baptist pastor; Samuel B. Halliday, Winning Souls . . . (New York, 1873), 
the reminiscences of a Congregationaiist evangelist and city missionary; William 
Taylor's ponderous Story of My Life . . . (New York, 1896), no less partisan from 
the fact that it is based on manuscripts written at the time of the events it describes- 
and P. C. Headley, ed., The Harvest Worl of the Holy Spirit ... (6th ed. 7 Boston,' 
1862), containing newspaper accounts of the beginning of Congregationaiist 
E. P. Hammond's career. 

The mountain of sermonic material defies description but demands selective 
study. The chief pitfall is that although tide pages often carry no reference to the 
author's denominational allegiance, the great university libraries contain more ser- 
mons by Unitarians than by those who preached to the masses. Useful collections 
for the student of popular religion are Boston Congregational Council, Addresses to 
Church Members ly the Congregational Pastors of Boston . . . (Boston, 1866), 
trumpeting for "new measures"; James Waddell Alexander, The Revival and Its Les- 
sons . . . (N. Y., 1858), containing seventeen "sermons for the people," by a 
reluctant revivalist from the Old School; anon., The New York Pulpit in the 
Revival of 1858 A Memorial Volume of Sermons (N. Y., 1858); Davis W. 
Clark, comp., Methodist Episcopd Pulpit: a Collection of Original Sermons (George 
Peck, ed., New York, 1850); Stephen H. Tyng, Lectures on The Law and 
The Gospel (New York, 1848), illustrating Low Church Episcopal evangelism; 
and Frederic Dan Huntington, Christian Believing and Living (Boston, 1859), 
proclaiming the famous Harvard preacher's conversion to Trrnitarianism. Charles G' 
Finney's volumes, Lectures on Revivals . . . (New York, 1835), Sermons on 
Important Subjects (3rd ed., New York, 1836), and Lectures to Professing Christians 



(New York, 1837), display the aspirations out of which the perfectionist revival was 
bom. Collected writings of nearly every prominent clergyman, including the Meth- 
odists, eventually appeared in print. Bishop Leonidas L. Hamline's Works (F. G. 
Hibbard, ed., New York, 1871) are important to us because of their expression of 
Methodist perfectionism. 

Revivalist and Perfectionist Propaganda 

Scattered through the foregoing parts of this essay are references to many volumes 
which furthered the spread of revival measures in churches hitherto reluctant to 
receive them. Others devoted particularly to this end were Henry Clay Fish, Pri- 
mitive Piety Revived . . . (Boston, 1855), which heralded the awakening of 'l858 
among Baptists and Congregationalists; Robert Aikman, The Relations of the Min- 
istry to Revivals of Religion . . , (New York, 1863), an Old School declaration; 
Frederic Dan Huntington, Permanent Realities of Religion and the Present Reli- 
gious Interest (Boston, 1858), which summoned Harvard to penitence; and Charles 
P. Mcllvaine, Bishop Mcllvaine on the Revival of Religion . . . (Philadelphia, 1858), 
a Low Church bishop's tract. 

In the theological journals, too, men of conservative backgrounds chorused the 
message which, in Finney's lectures and Albert Barnes's essay, "Revivals of Religion 
in Cities and Large Towns," The American National Preacher, XV (1 841), 1-24, 
had once come from voices crying in the wilderness, Henry ML Dexter, "Congrega- 
tionalism Specially Adapted to Promote Revivals of Religion," The Congregational 
Quarterly, HI (1861), 52-58, Levi Sternberg, "Revivals," The Evangelical Quar- 
terly Review, XV (1864), 273-92, and Henry Clay Fish, 'Tower in the Pulpit," 
The Christian Review, XXVII (1862), 118-42, spoke for three powerful de- 
nominations. Typical of the arch-Calvinist, the liturgical, and the humanist opposi- 
tion were, anon., "Spurious Revivals," The American Theological Review, I (1859), 
82-87; A. M. Ziegler, 'Treatment of the Awakened," The Evangelical Quarterly Re- 
view, IX (1857-58), 237-56; and Charles K. Whipple, "The Boston Revival, and Its 
Leader," The Radical, I (1866), 429-38, an attack on A. B. Earle. 

Perfectionism, likewise, won its way slowly into the columns of the learned quar- 
terlies. The Oberlin view was expounded in John Morgan, "The Gift of the Holy 
Ghost," The Olerlin Quarterly Review, I (1845), 90-116; disowned in James H. 
Fairchild, 'The Doctrine of Sanctification at Oberlin," The Congregational Quarter- 
ly, XVIII (1876); and scorned in J. C. Lord, "Finney's Sermons on Sanctification 
and Mahan on Christian Perfection," The Princeton Review, XIII (1841), 231- 
49. The Methodist Quarterly Review was the exception. George Peck, "Dr. Upham's 
Works," XXVHI (1846), 248-65, extended a Wesleyan welcome to the mystic 
philosopher of holiness. Jesse T. Peck, "Philosophy of Christian Perfection/* XXX 
(1848), 293-323, and Wesley Kerniey, "The Central Idea of Christianity," 
XXXIX (1857), 84-104, describing Peck's volume, illustrate that journal's friend- 
liness. The Guide to Holiness became the vehicle for most such writing in the 
denomination, however, as best indicated in Nathan Bangs's series, "Christian Per- 
fection," XIX (January-June, 1851), 37-41, 49-55, 74-79, 121-129; and XX 
(July-December, 1851), 29-31, 49-55, 73-75, 86-90, 109-12, 121-23. A. L. 



Bridgman, M A High Standard of Piety Demanded by the Times," The Evangelical 
Quarterly Review, VII (1855), 364-76, expresses interest but not approval; Jacob 
J. Abbott, TBoaidman's Higher Christian Life," BiUiotheca Sacra, XVII (1860), 
508-34, is antagonistic. 

Scores of boots and pamphlets swelled the stream of popular perfectionist 
propaganda. James Caughey, Phoebe Palmer, and Thomas C. Upham must have 
together published at least forty of them, as the footnotes on pp. 105-6 and 117-19 
suggest. I will list here only twenty-two titles which seem essential to an under- 
standing of the movement. Most of these appeared in numerous editions. 

Charles G. Finney, Views of Sanctification (Oberlin, Ohio, 1840), containing 
essays which appeared earlier in The Oberlin Evangelist, and Asa Mahan, Scripture 
Doctrine of Christian Perfection . . . (Boston, 1840), expound the earlier Oberlin 
doctrine. George O. Peck, The Scripture Doctrine of Christian Perfection Stated 
and Defended (New York, 1842), is a kindly and semi-official Methodist rejoinder, 
consisting of lectures delivered in several New York City churches. George Hughes, 
fragrant Memories of the Tuesday Meeting and Guide to Holiness . . . (New 
York, 1886), is a sentimental but detailed account of the course of Mrs. Palmer's 
group. Phoebe Palmer, The Way of Holiness . . . (New York, 1851), is her most in- 
fluential tract. D. S. King, ed., The Riches of Grace . . . (Boston, 1847) is a col- 
lection of unsigned testimonies given at the Tuesday Meeting, the first of a long 
cycle of such books. 

Important among later Methodist contributions to holiness literature are Nathan 
Bangs, Letters on the Necessity, Nature, and Fruits of Sanctification (New York, 
1851); Randolph S. Foster, Nature and Blessedness of Christian Purity (New York, 
1851; rev. ed., entitled Christian Purity; or, the Heritage of Faith, New York, 
1869); and Jesse T. Peck, The Central Idea of Christianity (Boston, 1856), all 
clearly "second blessing." William Arthur, The Tongue of Fire; or, the True Power 
of Christianity (New York, 1856, and many other editions, the first printed in 
London) applied the doctrine to social problems. Phoebe Palmer, Pioneer Experi- 
ences: or The Gift of Power Received fay Faith . . . (New York, 1867), contained 
eighty signed testimonies. James Caughey, Helps to a Life of Holiness ... (5th ed.*, 
Boston, 1852) illustrated the popular evangelism. Merritt Caldwell, The Philosophy 
of Christian Perfection . . . (Philadelphia, 1849), the first "psychological" study, 
provoked a minor controversy, while Tobias Spzcer, The Way from Sin to Sanctifica* 
tion, Holiness and Heaven (4th ed., New York, 1857) criticized Mrs. Palmer's 

Meanwhile, Thomas C. Uphara cultivated interest among the mystic-minded out- 
side the Methodist fold with volumes such as Principles of the Interior) or "Ridden 
Life . . . (2nd, ed., New York, 1845) and A Treatise on Divine Union . . . 
(Boston, 1851). Even more important was William E. Boardman's The Higher 
Christian Life (Boston, 1858), which related the doctrine to the practical quests 
of RevivaMstic Calvinism and became one of the half dozen most influential reli- 
gious books of the era. Boradman*s He That Overcometh: or, a Conquering Gospel 
(Boston, 1869) was a more starry-eyed "application." John Quincy Adams, ed., 
Experiences of the Higher Christum Life in the Baptist Denomination . . . (New 



York, 1870), illustrates another phase. John H. Wallace, Entire Holiness . . . 
(Auburn, N. Y., 1853), demonstrates the solid Wesleyan orthodoxy of the Genesee 
Conference agitators, while Benjamin T. Roberts, Holiness Teachings . . . (North 
Chili, N. Y., 1893), shows the effects of sectarianization o the doctrine among 
the Free Methodists. 

The Record of Evangelical Reform 

Edward Beecher, "The Nature, Importance, and Means of Eminent Holiness 
Throughout the Church/' The American National Preacher, X (1835), 193- 
224, best distills the ideas which, scattered through Fiimey*s lectures and the 
literature of temperance and abolition, were responsible for the birth of social Chris- 
tianity. The same author summarized his doctrine of the kingdom, foreshadowing 
George D. Herron and Walter Rauschenbusch, in "The Scriptural Philosophy of 
Congregationalism and of Councils," EiHiotheca Sacra, XXII (1865), 356-83. 
Edward N. Kirk, A Plea for the Poor . . . (Boston, 1843), is a more prosaic illustra- 
tion of the impulse revivals gave to social service. Stephen Colwell, New Themes for 
the Protestant Clergy . . . (Philadelphia, 1851), is a much over-rated attack on the 
churches, prejudiced by the author's strange program of reform. It must be com- 
pared with Samuel A. AUibone, A Review, by a Layiwan, of a Work Entitled, "New 
Themes for the Protestant Clergy , . ." (Philadelphia, 1852), an occasionally 
naive but factually rich rejoinder. Thomas Guthrie, The City, Its Sins and Its Sorrows 
. . . (New York, 1873, and many earlier editions) awakened compassion for the 
poor in both England and America. L. P. Brockett, 'The Relation of Christianity 
to Humanitarian Effort," The Methodist Quarterly Review, XL (1858), 452-70, 
and, anon., "The Relation of the Church to the Poor,*' The Princeton Review 
XXXIX (1862), 601-35, illustrate the growth of the new sense of responsibility in 
other quarters. 

Records of early efforts at social service may be found in anon., 'The Five Points 
House of Industry/' The American Church Monthly, III (1858), 209-22, 
289-97, 350-60, and New York City Tract Society, Annual Report[s] . . . with the 
. . . Annual Report[$] of the Female Branch (New York, 1838-63), as well as in 
the biographies and interdenominational handbooks described above. The religious 
weeklies printed frequent summaries and reports of such work. Henry Camrnann 
and H. N. Camp, The Charities of New York, Brooklyn and Staten Island (New 
York, 1868), is an invaluable catalogue, which includes historical statements, statistics, 
and lists of officers. The New York City Mission and Tract Society, Walks About 
New York. Pacts and figures Gathered from Various Sources (New York, 1865), is 
best on city missions. Lemuel Moss, Annals of the United States Christian Com- 
mission (Philadelphia, 1868), and L. P. Brockett, Woman's Work in the Civil War 
. . . (New York, 1867) stress the social aspects of wartime evangelism. 

Matlack's Orange Scott and the Massachusetts Abolition Society, Second Annual 
Report . . . (Boston, 1841), shed light on the earlier phases of evangelical antiskvery 
in New England and western New York. Albert Barnes, The Church and Slavery 
(2nd ed., Philadelphia, 1857), defends the New School Presbyterian Church's course, 



while Abel Stevens, "Slavery The Times," The Methodist Quarterly Review, 
XXXIX (1857), 260-80, and "American Slavery Its Progress and Prospects," 
the same, 437-63, seek to exonerate Methodism. Significant volumes by the 
three most influential abolitionists from the revivalist camp are George Barrel! 
Cheever, God Against Slavery; and the Freedom and Duty of the Pulpit to Rebuke It 
. . . (New York, 1857), platform of New York City Congregationalists; William 
Hosmer, The Higher Law . . . (Auburn, N. Y., 1852), by a Methodist editor from 
the Genesee country; and Gilbert Haven, National Sermons: Speeches and Letters 
on Slavery and Its War (Boston, 1 869), important for its millennial and racial views. 
The attack on the scriptural defense of the institution began with Albert Barnes, 
An Inquiry into the Scriptural Views of Slavery (Philadelphia, 1846), which set the 
trend toward rational interpretation of the Bible. George B. Cheever, The Guilt of 
Slavery and the Crime of Slaveholding, Demonstrated from the Hebrew and Greek 
Scriptures (Boston, i860), was as impetuous as Methodist Charles Elliott's volume, 
The Bible and Slavery . . . (Cincinnati, 1857), was restrained. The article, "Slavery 
and the Bible," The New Englander, XV (1857), 102-34, reviews several such works. 
The literature of millennialism is immense, but almost unfailingly rich in social 
ideas. On the eve of the Civil War numerous works signaled the conversion of 
hitherto conservative groups to optimistic postmillennialism. Joseph F. Berg, The 
Second Advent of Jesus Christ, Not Premillennial (Philadelphia, 1859), is a 
Dutch Reformed view. David Brown, On the Second Advent. Will It Be Pre-Millen- 
nid? (New York, 185 1), and George B. Taylor, "Society's Future," The Christian 
Review, XXII (1857), 356-79, are Baptist contributions. L. P. Hickok, "Human- 
ity Progressing to Perfection," The American Presbyterian and Theological Review, 
n. s. VI (1868), 532-50; and George T. Ladd, "What is the True Doctrine of 
Christ's Second Coming?" The New Englander, XXIH (1874), 356-83, in- 
dicate the postwar thrust of Christian hope. Phoebe Palmer, Promise of the Father; 
or a Neglected Specialty of the Last Days . . . (Boston, 1859), announced a sort 
of Pentecostal feminist crusade. 



Adams, John Q., 138-40 
Adams, William, 38, 65 
Adventists. See Millenial hope; Miller, 

William; and PrerniHennialism 
Alexander, James W., 64, 65, 69, 90, 135 
American Antislavery Society, 180-81, 


American Bible Society, 39, 55, 58 
American Board of Home Missions, 57 
American Home Missionary Society, 39 
American Sunday School Union, 39-42, 

65-66, 165-67 
American Tract Society, 55, 58, 173, 193- 


America's mission, doctrine of, 15-16, 78, 

188-89, 222, 223-24, 226-28, 232 
Amherst College, 50, 60 
Andover theology, 161-62 
Andrews, Emerson, 42, 48, 49, 60, 73, 

139, 168 

Antimission Baptists, 20-21, 25-26, 47, 92 
Anninianism, 25-26, 27-28, 32-33, 55, 80, 

88-92, 98, 141-42, 157, 229, 236 
Arthur, William, 10, 122, 154, 157, 159, 

Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 

19, 25, 43 
Atonement, doctrine of the, 95, 97, 99- 

100, 107, 115, 221 

Bacon, Leonard, 50 

Baird, Robert, 10, 37, 42, 45, 60, 89, 168 

Bangs, Nathan, 71, 120-21, 123, 127, 

159, 184, 189, 200, 211 
Baptists, 22-25; perfectionism among, 73- 

74, 135-36, 138-40; and reform, 230-31; 

revivalism among, 47-49, 68-69, 72-74; 

and slavery, 190, 199, 213-14, 218 
Barnes, Albert, 26, 28, 53, 60, 152, 195, 

204, 214, 216, 230 
Beecher, Edward, 53, 105, 159-60, 182, 

225-26, 230, 237 

Beecher, Henry Ward, 37, 75, 110, 202, 


Beecher, Lyman, 26, 42, 45, 53, 155 
Beman, Nathaniel S. S., 26, 53, 54 
Bennett, James Gordon, 63, 210 
Bible: authority of, 101, 107, 144, 147; 
influence of, 37; in the slavery con- 
troversy, 186, 216-19, 220 
Biraey, James G., 179, 183-84 
Boardman, William E., 28, 106-7, 113, 

135, 138, 167, 173, 175, 234 
Bond, Thomas E., 206-7 
Boston: churches of, 50, 164, 95-101; 
humanitarian endeavors in, 66, 172-73, 
205; perfectionism in, 107, 139-40; re- 
vivals in, 49, 52, 54, 72-74, 76, 118 
British-American religious relationships, 9- 
10, 41-42, 72-73, 107, 122, 124, 150, 
154, 167-68, 202, 212 
Bushnell, Horace, 28, 43, 52, 98, 106, 
146, 174, 218 

Calvinism, 7, 25-26, 27-28, 32-33, 163; 
liberalization of, 45-46, 55, 61, 80, 88- 
92, 160-61, 174; Orthodox, 32, 47, 65, 
90, 98, 102, 108-9, 150, 166-67, 229, 
236; and slavery, 186-87, 219 

Camp meetings, 9, 18, 60, 64, 67-68, 118, 
123-24, 129, 130, 136-38 

Campbell, Alexander, 29 

Canada: perfectionism, in, 67-68, 118, 
123-24, 138; revivals in, 67-68, 72 

Caughey, James, 46, 66, 73, 145, 150 

Chadbourne, Paul A., 73 

Cheever, George B., 42-43, 53, 65, 86, 
88, 110, 199, 202, 208-10, 215, 216-17, 
219, 223 

Christian Advocate and Journal, The, 81, 
84, 117, 120, 126, 133, 136 

Christian Connection, 21, 32 

Christian Labor Union, 236 

Christian Register, The, 71, 205 



Church membership: requirements for, 

18; statistics of, 17, 20-2! 
Civil War: causes of, 178-80, 189-90, 199- 

203, 204, 215-16; religious results of, 

231-34, 236; revivals In the, 76-78 
Clark, Davis W., 128-29, 133 
Clarke, James Freeman, 46 
Class structure and religion, 24, 80, 164, 


Colwell, Stephen, 34, 40-41, 165-66 
Congregational Church, 17, 21, 28, 43, 

53, 96; revivalism in the, 50-53, 73, 75- 

76; and slavery, 190, 208-10, 216-17 
Congregationalist, The, 51, 89, 205 
Connecticut Wesleyan University, 60 
Coolonan, Alfred, 74, 136-37, 175-76, 211 
Coolidge, James I. T., 99-100, 231 
Cowles, Henry, 53, 104, 110 
Cullis, Charles C., 173 
Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 20, 27- 

28, 88 

Darwinism, 162, 235-36 

Depressions, economic, and religion, 63- 


Dexter, Henry Martyn, 75 
Disciples of Christ, 21, 29, 59, 88 
Divine agency, doctrine of, 55, 61, 71, 

80, 90-91, 109, 112, 114, 117, 151-52, 

Divine immanence, doctrine of: and the 

Holy Spirit, 61, 97-99, 102, 142-43, 

145, 156-58, 161-62, 176, 218; and 

judgment of social evil, 156, 209-10, 

219-21, 232 

Douglas, Stephen A., 205 
Drew Theological Seminary, 121, 137 
Duffield, George, 26, 53, 108-9, 208 
Dutch Reformed Church, 19, 63 

Earle, A. B., 74, 75, 139-40 

East-West religious differences, 22-23, 25- 

26, 27, 48, 62, 75 
Education, higher, and religion, 36, 85. 

See also Revivalism in colleges 
Edwards, Jonathan, 87, 90, 220 
Ellis, George E., 95, 100 
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 9, 31, 92, 98, 

102, 142, 210 
Emotionalism, religious, 24, 46, 60, 93, 

99, 130, 158 

Ethical seriousness, 80, 85-88, 98-100, 223 
European travelers' views, 18-19, 37-38, 

41-42, 215, 227-28 

Evangelical Alliance, 19, 42-43, 45, 59, 
83, 142, 193 

Evangelical Arminianism, 33 
Evangelical Association, 31 

Feminism. See Women's rights 

Finney, Charles G., 9, 28, 45, 52, 60, 

66, 73, 81, 82, 86, 89, 92-93, 97, 102, 

103-13, 135, 149, 155-56, 180, 204, 

212, 215 

Fish, Henry C., 49, 81, 86, 135, 145, 211 
Fisk, Wilbur, 91, 121, 184, 195, 199 
Five Points Mission, 172-73 
Foster, Randolph S., 121, 123, 133, 134 
Free will. See Arannianism and Natural 

Free Methodist Church, 129-34, 141, 205, 


Freewill Baptists, 20, 26, 47, 89, 90 
Friends, Society of, 20, 31, 59, 88 

Garrett Seminary, 121, 133, 137 
Garrison, William Lloyd, 178-84, 194-95, 

198, 204, 213, 215 
German Methodists, 31 
German Reformed Church, 21, 92 
Gettysburg Seminary, 55-56 
Greeley, Horace, 63, 87, 204, 215 
Grimke", Sarah and Angeline, 179, 182, 

Guide to Holiness, The, 116, 120, 124, 

134, 143-44, 155, 211 
Gumey, John J., 31, 59 

Hamline, Leonidas L., 119-20, 123, 125- 

26, 133, 211, 232 
Hammond, Edward P., 50, 73-74 
Harper, Fletcher, 15-16 
Harvard University, 70, 95-101 
Haven, Gilbert, 35-36, 142, 189-90, 220- 

22, 235 

Hedding, Elijah, 119, 184 
Hicks, Elias, 31, 59 
Higher law, doctrine of the, 156, 205-6, 

209-10, 220-22, 233 
Hopkins, Mark, 50, 88, 93, 193 
Hopkins, Samuel, and the doctrine of dis- 
interested benevolence, 9, 160, 181 
Hosrner, William, 129, 205-6, 222, 233 
Humanitarian concern, 36, 45-46, 148, 
152-53, 176-77; Arminianism and, 92, 
229; perfectionism and, 154-61, 211-12; 
revivalism and, 60-61, 71, 77-79, 86-88, 
149-51, 161, 173-74, 231-32. See also 



Humphrey, Heman, 49, 50, 65, 73, 74 

Huntington, Frederic Dan, 31, 70-71, 95- 

102, 107-8, 142, 144-46, 151, 159, 231 

Immigrants, evangelization of, 39, 171-72 

Independent, The, 43, 52, 66, 77, 90, 
110-11; and social reform, 164, 174, 
193, 20840, 226, 229 

Inskip, John S., 74, 137 

Interdenominational harmony, 39-43, 96- 
97; and perfectionism, 139-40, 142; in 
revivals, 46, 52, 61, 65, 70-72, 80, 83- 
85, 87, 139-40; and social concern, 
159-60, 234. See also Evangelical Al- 
liance and Sectarian rivalry 

Janes, Edmund S., 76, 119-20, 123, 125, 
170, 175, 211 

Kirk, Edward Norris, 10, 42, 50-51, 53, 
66, 71, 73, 140, 163, 168, 175, 200, 

Knapp, Jacob, 47-48, 49, 66, 72-73, 139, 
150, 215, 228 

Kurtz, Benjamin, 55, 81 

Lanphier, Jeremiah C., 63, 66 

Lay leadership in religion, 24, 75, 80-83, 

132, 206-7 

Leavitt, Joshua, 149, 194, 208 
Lincoln, Abraham, 39, 200-202, 215, 216, 


Liturgical revival, 29-30, 57, 213-14 
Love, Christian law of, 87-88, 93, 158-61, 

199-201, 205-6, 215, 219, 234 
Lutheran Church, 17, 21, 30-31, 40, 55- 

59, 105, 214 

McClintock, John, 91, 195, 207, 233 
Mclivaine, Charles P., 30, 69-70, 140, 

150-51, 202, 227 

Mahan, Asa, 53, 104, 106, 110-13, 220 
Mann, Horace, 41 
Methodist Church, 22-25, 39, 40, 46-47, 

119; millennial views in, 232-34; and 

slavery, 181-83, 184-85, 189-93, 195- 

96, 200, 205-7, 211-12, 217, 220-22. 

See also Perfectionism; Revivalism in 

the denominations 
Methodist Protestant Church, 20 
Millennial hope, 15, 151-53, 157-58, 176- 

77, 221-22, 225-37 
Miller, William, 29, 228-29, 236 
Ministerial education, 24-26, 122 
Missions, city, 169, 172-73 

Missions, foreign, 123, 226 

Monthly Religious Magazine, The, 46, 

71, 95-100 

Moody, Dwight L., 51, 74 
Mourner's Bench, 31, 46, 59 

Nttural ability, doctrine of, 89, 108-10, 

Negro religion, 24, 220 

New York City: perfectionism in, 103-5, 
110, 119-21, 136-40; religion in, 18, 
22, 26, 38-39, 41, 47, 63, 209; revivals 
in, 49, 54, 63-66, 72-73; slavery con- 
troversy in, 186, 192, 194, 208-12; 
social work in, 39, 82-83, 169-72 

New York Evangelist, The, 43, 53, 103, 

Noyes, John Humphrey, 103-4, 113, 162, 
198, 213 

Oberlin College, 9, 53, 81, 82, 103-13, 

182, 186 

Ohio Wesleyan University, 60 
Olin, Stephen, 42, 122-23, 193 
Original sin, doctrine of, 114, 127, 131, 

134, 140 
OtherworldHness, 149, 183, 186, 212 

Pacifism, 153, 194-95, 198-200, 234 

Palmer, Phoebe (Mrs. Walter CO, 46, 
67-68, 73, 81, 82, 105, 107, 116-17, 
122-27, 130, 133, 140-46, 158, 169-71, 
202, 211, 228 

Palmer, Walter C, 46, 67-68, 73, 138-39. 
See also Palmer, Phoebe 

Parker, Theodore, 31, 86, 92, 178, 210, 

Peck, George O., 84, 120, 211, 233 

Peck, Jesse T., 121, 132, 134, 211, 233 

Perfectionism, 28, 33, 90, 97, 100; among 
Baptists, 135, 138-40; Lutheran views 
of, 56, 58, 135; Methodist doctrine of, 
46, 106, 108-9, 114-34; Oberlin views 
of, 103-13, 116-17; in revival of 1858, 
68, 74, 114-16; and "second blessing," 
doctrine of, 25, 103-13; in slavery con- 
troversy, 205-6, 211-13; social signifi- 
cance of, 154-62, 205, 225, 232-36 

Pew rents, 23-24, 164 

Philadelphia: perfectionism in, 133, 136- 
38; religion in, 20, 41; revivals in, 53- 
54, 64, 69-70, 73, 76, 119; social work 
in, 166-67 

Plan of Union, 42, 83 



Poor: evangelization of the, 65-66, 69, 

101; relief of die, 163-76 
Pragmatism in religion, 48, 61-62, 92-93, 

96, 145-46 
PremiUennialism, 228-29, 230-31, 233, 

Presbyteiiaiiiszny division of 1837, 26-28, 

Presbyterianism, New School: 21, 22, 26- 

28; and perfectionism, 108-9; and re- 
vivals, 53-54; and slavery, 185-86, 196- 

98, 208, 216-17 
Presbyterianism, Old School: 19, 21, 22, 

26-28, 40, 229; and revivals, 54-55; 

and slavery, 186-87, 198, 208, 213 
Princeton University, 55, 108, 185-86, 

208, 219, 235 
Protestant Episcopal Chinch, 21, 28, 29- 

30, 101, 214, 231 
Public schools, religion in, 41 
Puritan Recorder, The, 51, 90 

Randall, Benjamin, 26 
Rauschenbusch, Walter, 148, 230 
Regeneration, doctrine of, 98-100, 109-1 1, 

113, 140 

Republican party, 201-2, 208-9 
Revivalism, 7-8, 32; in city churches, 8- 
10, 48, 53-54, 59-60, 62, 65-66, 72-73, 
204 ff.; in colleges, 48, 50, 51, 53, 54, 
56, 60, 73, 137-38; decrease of emo- 
tionalism in, 46, 60, 69-70; and the 
educated clergy, 48, 50, 60; and liberal 
theology, 46, 60-61; and practical church 
work, 48, 61-62; and professional 
evangelists, 46, 47-48, 49, 72-74, 118; 
and union city-wide campaigns, 72-73. 
See also Slavery 

Revivalism in the denominations; Baptist, 
23-25, 47-49, 59, 66-68, 74; Congrega- 
tional, 50-53, 66-67, 75-76, 139-40; 
Episcopal, 30, 69-70; Freewill Baptist, 
26, 47; Lutheran, 30-31, 55-59, 74; 
Methodist, 23-25, 46-47, 66, 74-75; 
New School Presbyterian, 26-28, 53-54; 
Old School Presbyterian, 54-55, 66, 69, 
74; Unitarians and Universalists in the 
revival of 1858, 70-71, 75, 99-100 
Revivalistic Calvinism, 32 
Roberts, Benjamin T., 130-32 
Roman Catholic Church, 40-41, 214 
Rural-urban differences, 9, 22-24, 47-48, 
56, 59, 62, 67-68, 78, 115, 122, 124, 
129-33, 136-37, 141, 143-44, 152, 164, 


Sabbath observance, 37, 209 

Sacramental theory, 30 

Schaff, Philip, 18, 26, 28, 30-31, 35, 55, 
84, 226-27 

Schmucker, Samuel S., 42, 55-56, 58, 81, 
214, 226 

Scott, Orange, 183, 184-85, 212 

Sectarian rivalry, 19, 34, 42-43, 57-58, 
61. Se& also Interdenominational har- 

Secularism, 16 

Separation of church and state. See 
Voluntary system 

Simpson, Matthew, 120, ISO, 173-74, 
175, 202, 233 

Slavery, 2, 23, 27, 42-43, 47, 64, 78, 185- 
86, 180-83; Baptists and, 190; Congre- 
gationalists and, 190, 193-94; and de- 
nominational unity, 190-92; Methodists 
and, 184-85, 190-93, 195-96; perfec- 
tionism and, 205-6, 211-13, 220-22; 
Presbyterians and, 26-27, 185-87, 196- 
98; religious defense of, 181-82, 199- 
200, 210; revivalism and antislavery, 
87-88, 129-31, 149-50, 152-53, 180, 
200-202, 204-24, 225 

Small sects, 8, 18-19, 38, 79 

Southern churches, 17, 22-23, 26-27, 77- 
78, 199, 219 

Southern Baptist Convention, 23. See 
also Baptists 

Spiritoalism, 29 

Sprecher, Samuel, 55 

Stevens, Abel, 42, 121, 189, 192-93, 205 

Stowe, Harriet B*, 82, 87, 160, 179 

Stuart, George H., 76, 193 

Sturtevant, James M., 85, 174, 202, 222 

Sunday schools, 65-66. See also American 
Sunday School Union 

Tappan, Arthur, 179 
Taylor, Nathaniel W., 28, 50, 89, 91 
Taylor, William, 74, 118-19, 132 
Temperance reform, 37, 133-34, 164, 166, 

167-68, 176, 225 
Theocracy, doctrine of, 7, 216, 219-23, 


Thompson, Joseph P., 216, 217-18 
Thomson, Edward, 207 
Tocqueville, Alexis de, 35, 89 
Toleration, religious, 34, 35-36, 221-22 
Traditionalism, 32, 58, 85, 213-14 
Transcendentalism, 8, 87, 96, 97-98, 102, 

105, 113, 141-43, 183, 210 
Trinity, doctrine of die, 99-100 


Tyng, Dudley A., 69, 82 

Tyng, Stephen H., 29, 30, 69, 172 

Union Theological Seminary, 49, 53, 92 
Unitarianism, 21, 31-32, 41, 86-87, 95* 

102, 147, 176, 181, 190 
United Brethren in Christ, 20, 31 
United States Christian Commission, 76- 

78, 145, 175-76, 231, 234 
Universalist Church, 21, 29, 190 
University of Rochester, 48, 49 
Upham, Thomas C., 105-6, 124, 141-44, 

161, 220, 232 

Voluntary system, 18, 19, 34-35, 59-60, 

Walther, C. F. W., 57 

Watchman and Reflector, Tke, 48, 67, 

152-53, 205, 231 
Wayknd, Francis, 48, 81, 82, 174, 194, 

211, 215 
Wealth, Christian view of, 87, 155-57, 

164, 174-75, 209 

Wesley, John, 9, 25, 83, 103, 114-16, 

196, 181 
Wesleyan Methodist Church, 25, 116, 

184-85, 190, 211-12 
West, evangelization of the, 39-40, 54, 


Whedon, Daniel, 91-92 
Willard, Frances, 133-34 
Williams College, 50 
Wise, Daniel, 117, 126, 205, 207, 223 
Witness of the Spirit, doctrine of the, 51, 


Wittenberg College, 55, 60 
Women** rights, 82, 124, 133, 144-45, 

169-71, 182, 212 

Yale University, 50, 51 
Young Men's Christian Association, 39, 
51, 52, 63, 65, 76, 175-76, 193 

Zion's Herald, 117-18, 126, 155, 184-85, 
191, 205, 207, 223 


Revised February 1966 


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1517 * IlluS TB/3003 

FRANCESCO cuicciARDivi Maxims and Reflections of a 
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and Political Thought of Russia's Great Age 18/1065 

FRANK E. MANUEL, The Prophets of Pans Turgot, Con- 
dorcet, Saint-Simon, Fourier, and Comte 18/12.18 

KiNGStEY MARTIN: French Liberal Thought in the 
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Bayle to Condorcet 18/1114 

L. B. NAMIER. Personalities and Powers Selected Essays 


L B NAMIER Vanished Supremacies Essays on Euro- 
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JOHN u NEF Western Civilization Since the Renais- 
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R R BOLGAR The Classical Heritage and Its Benefici- 
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RANDOLPH s BOURNE War and the Intellectuals Col- 
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j BRONOWSKI & BRUCE MAZLisH . The Western Intellectual 
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NORMAN COHN The Pursuit of the Millennium. Reoo- 
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c c GILLISPIE- Genesis and Geology The Decades be- 
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G RACHEL LEVY Religious Conceptions of the Stone Age 
and Their Influence upon European Thought. Illus. 
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ARTHUR o LOVEJOY- The Great Chain of Being A Study 
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FRANK E MANUEL The Prophets of Pans Turgot, Con- 
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PERJRY MILLER & T H JOHNSON, Editors The Puritans A 
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MILTON c NAHM Genius and Creativity: An Essay in 
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ROBER7 PAYNE Hubris: A Study of Pride. Foreword by 
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BRUNO SNELL The Discovery of the Mind: The Creek 
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PAGET TOYNBEE: Dante Alighiexi: His Life and Worfcs 
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ERNEST LEE TUVESON" Millennium and Utopia: A Study 
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PAUL VALERY: The Outlook for Intelligence 73/2016 

PHILIP P. WIENER. Evolution and the Founders of Prag- 
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Literature, Poetry, The Novel & Criticism 

JAMES BAIRD- Ishmael- The Art of Melville in the Con- 
texts of International Pnmitruism 73/1023 
JACQUES BARZUN- The House of Intellect 73/1051 
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RACHEL BESPALOFF On the Iliad TB/2006 

R p BLACKMUR et al Lectures in Criticism. Introduc- 
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ERNST R CURTXUS European Literature and the Latin 
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GEORGE ELIOT- Daniel Deronda a novel. Introduction by 
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ADOLF ERMAN, Ed The Ancient Egyptians A Source- 
book of Their Writings New Material and Introduc- 
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ETTENNE GILSON Dante and Philosophy 73/1089 

ALFRED HARBAGE As They Liked It A Study of Shakes- 
peare's Moral Artistry 73/1035 

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A R. HUMPHREYS The Augustan World Society, 
Thought and Letters in 18th Century England 


ALDOUS HUXLEY: Antic Hay & The Giaconda Smile 
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ALDOUS HUXLEY Brave New World St. Brave New World 
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HENRY JAMES- The Tragic Muse a novel Introduction by 
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Volume II. Henry James to the Present 73/1012 

ROGER SHERMAN LOOMis The Development of Arthurian 
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JOHN STUART MTU.- On Bentham and Coleridge. Intro- 
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KENNETH B MURDOCK Literature and Theology in 
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SAMUEL PEPYS The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Edited by 
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ST -JOHN PERSE Seamarks 73/2002 

GEORGE SANTAYANA Interpretations of Poetry and Re- 
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HEINRICH STRAUMANN" American Literature in the 
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PAGET TOYNBEE Dante Ahghien His Life and Works 
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DOROTHY VAN GHENT The English Novel Form and 
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E B WHITE One Man's Meat. Introduction by Walter 
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MORTON DAUWEN ZABEL, Editor Literary Opinion in 
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Myth, Symbol & Folklore 

JOSEPH CAMPBELL, Editor. Pagan and Christian Mys- 
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MIRCEA ELIADE Cosmos and History The Myth of the 
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MERCEA ELIADE Rites and Symbols of Initiation The 
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c G JUNG & c KERENYT Essays on a Science of Myth- 
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Maiden 73/2.014 

DORA & ERWIN PANOFSKY- Pandora's Box. The Changmg 
Aspects of a Mythical Symbol. Revised Edition. Illus 


ERWIN PANOFSKY- Studies In Iconology: Humanistic 
Themes in the Art of the Renaissance. 180 illustra- 
tions IB/1077 

JEAN SEZNIC- The Survival of the Pagan Gods- The 
Mythological Tradition and its Place in Renaissance 
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HELLMUT WILHELM Change: Eight Lectures on the I 
Ching TB/2019 

HEINSICH ZD4MES. Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and 
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c, E. M ANSCOMBE An Introduction to Wittgenstein's 
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HENRI BERGSON. Time and Free Will: An Essay on the 
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H. 1 BLACKHAM: Six Existentialist Thinkers, Kierke- 
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CHANT BjutNTON' Nietzsche New Preface, Bibliography 
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ERKST CASSIREX The Individual and the Cosmos in 
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Two Essays on New Testament Research. Translated 
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JOHN T MCNEILL: A History of the Cure of Souls 73/126 

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H. RICHARD NIEBUHR The Kingdom of God In America 


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KURT SAMUELS5ON. Religion and Economic Action A 
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Spirit of Capitalism. , Trans, by E G, French. Ed. 
with Intro, by D. C. Colsman TB/IIJI 

TIMOTHY L. SMITH Revivalism and Social Reform* Prot- 
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ERNST TROELTSCH The Social Teaching of the Christian 
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Biological Sciences 

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IIIUS, TB/570 

A. BELLAms: Reptiles: life History, Evolution, and 
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LUDWIG VON BERTALANFFY Modem Theories of Develop- 
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LUDWIG VON BERTALANFFY Problems of Life- An Evalua- 
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HAROLD F. BLUM Time's Arrow and Evolution 13/555 
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A j CAIN: Animal Species and their Evolution lllus. 


WALTER B CANNON: Bodily Changes in Pain, Hunger, 
Fear and Rage lllus, TB/5$2 

w. E. LE GROS CLARK. The Antecedents of Man. Intro to 
Evolution of the Primates, lllus. 18/559 

w H DOWDESWELL Animal Ecology, lllus, 18/543 

w. H. DOWDESWELL. The Mechanism of Evolution. lllus. 


R w. GERARD- Unresting Cells. lllus. 18/54:1 

DAVID LACK: Darwin's Finches, lllus, 15/544 

j E. MORTON Molluscs An Introduction to their form 
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ADOLF PORTMANN. Animals as Social Beings. * lllus. 


o w. RICHARDS: The Social Insects. lllus, 13/542 

p. M SHEFPAXD Natural Selection and Heredity, lllus. 


EDMUND w. SINNOTT Cell and Psyche: The Biology of 
Purpose 18/546 

c. H WADDINGTON. How Animals Develop lllus. 18/553 
c. H WADDINGTON. The Nature of life The Main Prob- 
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j R. PARTENGTON: A Short History of Chemistry, ttlus. 


j READ. A Direct Entry to Organic Chemistry ttlus. 


j READ: Through Alchemy to Chemistry. Illas. TB/56i 

Communication Theory 

j R PIERCE- Symbols, Signals and Noise- The Nature 
and Process of Communication 18/574 


R E COKER. This Great and Wide Sea: An Introduction 

to Oceanography and Marine Biology, lllus. TB/551 

F. K. HAKE : The Restless Atmosphere TB/56o 


History of Science 

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lllus. 18/512 

A. HUNTER DUPREE: Science in the Federal Government: 
A History of Policies and Activities to 1940 18/573 

ALEXANDRA KOYRE: From the Closed World to the Infinite 
Universe. Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, etc. 


A. G. VAN MELSEN: From Atomos to Atom: A History of 

the Concept Atom 111/517 

o. NEUGEBALTER : The Exact Sciences in Antiquity TB/552 

H. T. PLEDGE: Science Since 1500: A Short History of 

Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. lllus. 


HANS THTJUUNG- Energy for Man: From Windmills to 
Nuclear Power 111/556 

LANCELOT LAW WHYTE: Essay on Atomism: From Democ- 
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A. WOLF: A History of Science, Technology and Philoso- 
phy in the i6th and 17th Centuries. lllus. 

VoLI TB/50S; VoL H 18/509 

A WOLF A History of Science, Technology, and Philoso- 
phy in the Eighteenth Century lllus 

Vol. I TB/539, VoL II TB/540 


E w BETH The Foundations of Mathematics A Study 
in the Philosophy of Science TB/58i 

H DAVENPORT. The Higher Arithmetic An Introduction 
to the Theory of Numbers TB/526 

H G FORDER Geometry An Introduction TB/548 

GOTTLOB FREGE. The Foundations of Arithmetic. A 
Logico-Mathematical Enquiry TB/534 

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D E LITTLEWOOD Skeleton Key of Mathematics A 
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WItLARD VAN ORMAN QUINE. Mathematical Logic TB/558 

o G. SUTTON. Mathematics m Action. Foreword by 
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FREDERICK WAiSMANN Introduction to Mathematical 
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Philosophy of Science 

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j BRONOWSKI- Science and Human Values. Revised and 
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ALBERT EINSTEIN et al Albert Einstein: Philosopher- 
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WERNER HEISENBERG Physics and Philosophy: The Revo- 
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JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES. A Treatise on Probability. 
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KARL R. POPPER The Logic of Scientific Discovery 


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STEPHEN TOULMIN The Philosophy of Science An In- 
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G j. WHTTROW. The Natural Philosophy of Time 


Physics and Cosmology 

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DAVID BOHM: Causality and Chance in Modern Physics. 
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p. w. BRIDGMAN The Nature of Thennodynamics 


p. w. BRIDGMAN A Sophisticate's Primer of Relativity 


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ARTHUR EDDINGION. Space, Time and Gravitation. An 
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GEORGE GAMOW: Biography of Physics 2 18/567 

MAX JAMMER: Concepts of Force: A Study in the Founda- 
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MAX JAMMER : Concepts of Mass in Classical and Modern 
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MAX JAMMER: Concepts of Space: The History of 
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EDMUND WHirrAKES.: History of the Theories of Aether 
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G. j WHiTROW: The Structure and Evolution of the Uni- 
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